09/10/2006 12:00AM

Officer Rocket and Got the Last Laugh dead heat in Futurity

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Horse racing a game of inches? More like fractions of inches - or less. An hour after the Arlington-Washington Lassie was decided by a whisker, there was nothing separating Officer Rocket and Got the Last Laugh as the Grade 3, $200,000 ended in a dead heat.

Officer Rocket was expected to be there: He was the 4-5 favorite in a 10-horse field after an impressive maiden win at Arlington, and a 13-length score in an overnight stakes prep for the Futurity. Got the Last Laugh, a 5-1 shot, had made only one start, winning a Saratoga maiden race despite a troubled trip. Trainer Bill Mott sent Got the Last Laugh to Arlington via his Churchill Downs string, and the colt took a significant step forward in his second race. Edging forward to contest the pace around the turn, he shook free from second-choice Street Sense in mid-stretch, only to face a fresh challenge from Officer Rocket.

Racing from well off the pace for the first time, Officer Rocket and Mark Guidry swung wide turning for home, and the pair came to the sixteenth pole looking like a sure winner. "I really thought I had him," said Guidry.

But Got the Last Laugh, having put away the other pace, was merely waiting for competition, according to jockey Rene Douglas.

"Right when he saw clear, he started waiting on other horses," Douglas said.

Got the Last Laugh came back once headed; Officer Rocket, a sure winner a half-furlong out, may have been fortunate to hang on for a dead-heat.

Both horses ran well, clocking 1:36.71 (two seconds faster than the Lassie) for a mile on a track rated sloppy. Street Sense, always part of the pace, held well for third, with the maiden Dominican fourth. Officer Rocket, trained by Bob Holthus, paid $2.40 to win, Got the Last Laugh $4.20.

* Favored Chic Dancer easily won the Flawlessly, an overnight turf stakes, to close out the Sunday card. Chic Dancer, getting a perfect trip for trainer Christine Janks under leading rider Chris Emigh, easily beat French import Travel Team.