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It’s Another Week and Another Loss for Officer

TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are no plans to run Officer this coming weekend after he was beaten for the second time in a week Saturday at Santa Anita.

In what was an even bigger upset than his first defeat at Belmont Park eight days ago in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Officer lost some more luster when outrun by Yougottawanna in the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile.

A surprise entrant in the 12th California Cup, Officer, a 2-year-old son of Bertrando who had won his first five starts without taking a deep breath, ran without blinkers for the first time in the Juvenile.

Taken far off the early pace by new rider Gary Stevens as the 2-5 favorite against 11 other state-breds, Officer began to move powerfully down the backstretch. When he moved up wide around the far turn to join the leaders, most of the 37,184 on hand probably thought he was on his way to an easy victory.

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However, Yougottawanna and jockey Laffit Pincay Jr.--who added three Cal Cup wins to go with the five he had last year--were far from finished.

After falling nearly a length behind the favorite with a furlong to run, the Candi’s Gold gelding and 5-2 second choice re-rallied and went on to win--going away, actually--by half a length.

In defeat, trainer Bob Baffert wasn’t dismayed and still believes Officer, who was a $700,000 purchase earlier this year by Prince Ahmed Salman’s Thoroughbred Corp., is a quality colt.

“Obviously, we would have liked to have won, but he learned a lot out there today,” Baffert said. “This horse has had everything handed to him and today he had to work. He had to make a long run and he flattened out a bit. He’s still a good horse and this race is going to do him a lot of good.”

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Stevens, who replaced Victor Espinoza on Officer, took the blame for the defeat.

“I made too much of a middle move,” he said. “He really hung with me the last eighth of a mile, but that was my fault, not his. He’s a quality colt and I’ll take the blame for this one.

“He was really relaxed with me early. Turning into the backside, he picked up the bit and was ambling along. I kind of had to kick him into gear going into the far turn and it was too early. It definitely hurt him in the last sixteenth.”

Owned by Halo Farms and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Yougottawanna, who completed the 11/16 miles in 1:43 4/5, has now won three of six.

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In the day’s richest race, the $250,000 Classic, Irisheyesareflying, a $50,000 claim nearly 18 months ago by trainer John Dolan for a partnership, earned his second consecutive lucrative score, beating favored Figlio Mio and seven others.

Making his first start since winning the $250,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 19, the 5-year-old Flying Continental horse relaxed off the early pace set by longshot Eric Da Bomb, then took over in the final furlong to win by 21/2 lengths under jockey Kent Desormeaux. The final time for the 11/8 miles was 1:49.

This was the first Cal Cup Classic win for Desormeaux and the fourth victory for Irisheyesareflying, the 5-2 second choice, since he was claimed 13 races ago.

“I think today was the best race of his life, better than the Longacres Mile,” said Dolan, who also has had a lot of success with Lazy Slusan, a mare he claimed for $62,500 last year. “He ran really great. He runs his best race when he’s fresh.

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“Kent did a great job. Everything worked out perfect. I’m going to enjoy this win and plan for the future later.”

Figlio Mio, the 2-1 choice, finished second, a head in front of Vixen Storm, the longest shot in the field at nearly 73-1. Romanceishope, the 3-1 third choice, was fourth.

Second to Stevens’ 13 with 12 career Cal Cup wins, Pincay also scored with Lil Sister Stich in the $50,000 Distaff Starter Handicap and rallied from far back to take the $150,000 Matron with Cee Dreams.

The other winners Saturday were Ceeband, who won for the third time in his last four starts in the $150,000 Sprint; Lady George, a $2,500 yearling purchase who provided the day’s biggest upset with a $32.20 surprise in the $125,000 Juvenile Fillies; favorites Jeweled Pirate in the $150,000 Distaff and Native Desert in the $175,000 Mile--his second win in the turf race in his fourth appearance--and longshots As We Know It, who won his fourth in a row in the $50,000 Starter Handicap, and Rio Oro, who paid $19.40 in winning the $50,000 Starter Sprint Handicap.

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