Odds-on choice Richard's Kid gave every indication he's ready to try for a third win in the Pacific Classic (gr. I) when he unleashed an impressive turn of foot in the stretch to capture the $100,000 Cougar II Handicap (gr. III) in a Polytrack record time at Del Mar July 27 (VIDEO).
With Rafael Bejarano aboard, Richard's Kid saved ground while racing toward the rear of the six-horse field before angling out rounding the final bend and driving to the front over Worth Repeating and a tiring Dynamic Host.
Running for Zabeel Racing International and trained by Bob Baffert, Richard's Kid won by 1 1/2 lengths while completing the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2:29.22, knocking .17 off the former mark established by Bourbon Bay in last year's Cougar II.
“We knew he was a good horse and he loves this track and he had worked really good over it," Baffert said of the 2-5 pick. "He had them over a barrel today."
Baffert said the Pacific Classic, in which Richard's Kid could face stablemate Game On Dude as well as defending champion Acclamation, would be next.
Fitzhugh bred Richard's Kid in Maryland. The dark bay is out of Tough Broad, by Broad Brush.
Richard's Kid atoned for two earlier losses in the Cougar II, finishing third in 2010 and second the year before that. The 7-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid won the Pacific Classic in both of those years but was based in Dubai for Zabeel last year. This year's TVG Pacific Classic is Aug. 26. Richard's Kid will attempt to become the first horse to win the prestigious race three times.
“It was almost like a bonus for me after I had my heart attack (days before the Dubai World Cup on March 31) when they told me I was getting Richard’s Kid back," Baffert said. "I got saved (his own life) and I got Richard’s Kid, so something good came out of it.”
Worth Repeating, ridden by Mike Smith, finished a clear second by 3 3/4 lengths over Balladry, who ran on for third with Joe Talamo aboard. Dynamic Host, Fly Lexis Fly, and Romp completed the order.
Richard's Kid, coming off a runner-up effort to stablemate Game On Dude in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) July 7, raced at the back of the field with Dynamic Host as Fly Lexis Fly pulled his way to the front and led the first-half mile in :49.09.
Worth Repeating, stalking in third, took the lead on the outside leaving the second turn after a mile in 1:38.95. He got control in the lane as Dynamic Host weakened after a big move. Richard's Kid, moving powerfully through the drive, took the lead just past the furlong pole and proved best under left-handed urging from Bejarano.
Bejarano said he was pleased with the ease in which Richard's Kid dispatched his rivals.
"We didn’t want to do too much with him today," Bejarano said. "They had him just right for this; he was relaxed out there. Very impressive the way he won. He’s a good horse. And a track record, too. It’s good to ride a horse like this.”
Richard's Kid's 11th lifetime win in 35 starts boosted his career earnings to $1,986,360. He has won three of six races at Del Mar.
Carrying top weight of 123 pounds, the winner paid $2.80, $2.40, $2.10. Worth Repeating returned $6. and $3.80. Balladry was $4.40 to show.
There was a minus show pool on Richard’s Kid of $39,169.