Pacific Classic (gr. I) winner Richard's Kid, most recently third in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), headlines the field for the $125,000 Cougar II Handicap (gr. III) at Del Mar July 30, if he goes.
Trainer Bob Baffert is also considering the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) the following day for Richard's Kid. The 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid used the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II as a springboard to his neck victory over Einstein in last year's Pacific Classic. The Cougar II carries a "Win and You're In" tag for the 1 3/4-mile Breeders' Cup Marathon (gr. III) at Churchill Downs Nov. 4.
Richard's Kid ran sixth in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). The Cougar II, which he lost by a nose to Unusual Suspect on Del Mar's Polytrack, is quite a bit longer than than the San Diego, which is contested at 1 1/16 miles. Richard's Kid is coming off the 10-furlong Gold Cup, in which he finished 3 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Awesome Gem after racing closer to the leaders than he usually does. The Gold Cup pace was exceedingly slow.
The Cougar II, which goes as the seventh race on Del Mar's twilight program, is scheduled for 7 p.m. PDT.
Baffert noted that that the longer race worked well for Richard's Kid last year in preparation for the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic.
"The mile and 1/16 sometimes can be a little short for him," he said. "He gets to rolling and it's got to set up for him so I thought maybe I'll give him a race here at a mile and a half that will set him up for the Pacific Classic."
Martin Garcia rode Richard's Kid, owned by Zabeel Racing International, for the first time in the Gold Cup and has the mount again on the 122-pound top weight. They drew post five in the field of seven. Maryland-bred Richards' Kid, with earnings of $951,370 while winning seven of 24 starts, would go over the $1 million mark with a win.
Defending Cougar II winner Unusual Suspect, who has not won since that race, returns for trainer Barry Abrams. Corey Nakatani draws the riding assignment on the 6-year-old son of Unusual Heat, third in the Sunset Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood Park turf July 18.
Temple City , like Richard's Kid, was nominated for the San Diego by trainer Carla Gaines. The 5-year-old son of Dynaformer missed by a head to Global Hunter in the American Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Hollywood lawn July 4. Temple City ran fourth in last year's San Diego, his only start on Del Mar's Polytrack. He retains jockey Joe Talamo.
The millionaire Delightful Kiss is always dangerous off his best, but trainer Pete Anderson's 6-year-old charge has not won since taking the 2009 Hal's Hope Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park more than 18 months ago.
Princess Taylor, a 6-year-old British-bred mare trained by Paddy Gallagher, makes her first start since finishing second to Turning Top in the Beverly Hills Handicap (gr. IIIT) June 26 on the Hollywood turf. She was assigned 109 pounds.
Struggling Rendezvous seeks a winning spot after eight consecutive losses for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. His last victory came on the turf in the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) by a nose over Battle of Hastings more than 13 months ago.
Lifeline, making his stakes debut for owner/trainer Myung Kwon Cho, completes the field.
$125,000 Cougar II Handicap (gr. III, Race 7, 7 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Rendezvous (KY), J Rosario, 116, J Hollendorfer
2. Lifeline (KY), A Bisono, 111, M K Cho
3. Unusual Suspect (CA), C S Nakatani, 116, B Abrams
4. Princess Taylor (GB), V Espinoza, 109, P Gallagher
5. Richard's Kid (MD), M Garcia, 122, B Baffert
6. Temple City (KY), J Talamo, 114, C Gaines
7. Delightful Kiss (FL), D R Flores, 115, A Ordonez
Blinkers Off: Rendezvous