Richard's Kid is Dubai-bound after winning the $150,000 San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 7 in his first start for new owner Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed al Maktoum's Zabeel Racing International.
Santa Anita returned to racing Feb. 7 with an early Super Bowl-day program, one day after it was forced to cancel its fourth program of the season when the Pro-Ride main track failed to drain well enough to allow safe racing following heavy rainfall in the area.
With Garrett Gomez aboard the 8-5 favorite, the late-running Richard's Kid trailed the field for six furlongs of the 1 1/8-mile San Antonio but exploited an opening along the inside to rally furiously in the home stretch. In a sizzling finish, he got up in the final couple of jumps to nail 34-1 shot Dakota Phone by a head, with another long shot, Philatelist, a second head away in third. The final time was a slow 1:49.05 over the Pro-Ride.
Richard's Kid, recently sold to Zabeel Racing by Arnold Zetcher, picked up his first win since he surprised the Pacific Classic (gr. I) field at 24-1 last September at Del Mar. A 5-year-old Maryland-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid --Tough Broad, by Broad Brush, Richard's Kid was making his first start since a sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) over the same track Nov. 7.
“I stayed down inside with him because there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it," Gomez said afterward. "Nobody was really stopping today, so the only way we were going to overcome that was to save ground. He’s got a great kick.”
Trainer Bob Baffert conditioned Richard's Kid for Zetcher and has continued to train for his new owner. He said after the race that Richard's Kid would compete in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) at the new Meydan Racecourse in Dubai March 27. The World Cup purse has been increased to $10 million this year.
Richard's Kid dropped out to last in the 11-horse San Antonio and Gomez was content to keep him there even as Mast Track grabbed a lonely lead for Mike Smith while clicking off easy quarter-mile fractions of :24.26, :48.94, and 1:13.02. Mast Track led them into the stretch, but several were ganging up on his outside. Pick Six, sitting second most of the way, had a half-length lead at the eighth pole as Mast Track weakened slightly, but others, including Dakota Phone, Philatelist, and Furthest Land, were also on the move.
But along the inside Richard's Kid was flying home under left-handed urging. He was seventh with a furlong to run but continued to charge under vigorous handling, surging in the last 50 yards to get to the wire just in front of Dakota Phone, ridden by Martin Garcia, and 18-1 Philatelist, who was rallying on the outside for Rafael Bejarano.
“They were going slow and he was getting a little rank," Baffert noted of the winner. "He was way back there. The pace was the deciding factor and you can’t really change his style. Turning for home I thought, ‘Boy, they’re going so slow,’ and I couldn’t see him. I heard (wife) Jill yelling for him...but he was on the rail and he just shot through there.”
It was a half-length to Pick Six in fourth, followed by Furthest Land, Mast Track, Marsh Side, Nownownow, Quasicobra, Giganticus and Slew's Tiznow .
The winning purse of $90,000 increased the lifetime earnings of Richard's Kid to $891,370. Bred by Fitzhugh, the dark bay or brown horse has comped a 7-2-5 record in 22 starts.
Richard's Kid carried top weight of 120 pounds and paid $5.20, $3.40, and $3 while keying a $94.40 exacta. Dakota Phone gave a game effort and appears to be rounding back into form for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. He returned $2.140 and $10.80. The British-raced invader Philatelist, making his first U.S. start for new trainer Humberto Ascanio, was $7.80 to show in an encouraging debut.