Ten runners, including a trio from the Bob Baffert barn, help form an intriguing lineup in the $200,000 San Diego Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar July 31.
The field includes Enriched, who was supplemented to the race for $2,000 after he finished third in the Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) July 24. Patrick Valenzuela has the call on the Doug O'Neill trainee.
Baffert's entrants, racing uncoupled, include 2009 Pacific Classic (gr. I) winner Richard's Kid , exiting an oddly run Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) in which he finished third. Richard's Kid, assigned top weight of 122 pounds in the San Diego, is also entered in Del Mar's Cougar II Handicap at 1 1/2 miles the preceding evening.
The other Baffert entrants are Sangaree , who has run second in three consecutive graded events, and Mythical Power, winner of the Texas Mile (gr. III) at Lone Star Park April 24.
The field also includes multiple grade II turf winner Battle of Hastings, a Jeff Mullins trainee making his first main track appearance after 19 consecutive starts on grass in his career.
The San Diego, at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack, is Del Mar's most important stakes prep for the $1 million Pacific Classic, which will be presented by TVG on Aug. 28. The winner also earns entry into the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs. The race is the eighth on the program with a 5:30 p.m.probable post.
Enriched ran evenly in finishing third in a slow-paced Eddie Read on Del Mar's turf course. He would be returning in seven days for O'Neill, who warned earlier in the week that he might bring the half-brother to seven-time grade I winner Lava Man right back. Enriched has one win in six starts on synthetic tracks.
A six-time winner in 19 races with earnings of $366,656, he is looking for his first stakes victory.
"He cleaned up his feed tub and just bounced out of the Read in good shape and showed a lot of energy," O'Neill said July 29. "He's still showing that kind of energy. He's shortening up for this race and that should help him, too."
O'Neill, who trains Enriched for a partnership, told Daily Racing Form that he opted for Valenzuela because Joel Rosario, who had ridden the 5-year-old High Brite gelding in his past three starts, was committed to Dakota Phone in the San Diego. Enriched, who has some speed, drew the inside post.
Valenzuela recently was given a conditional license to resume racing in California after nearly three years following numerous suspensions for drug and alcohol abuse.
"We're giving Patrick a chance in there," O'Neill said. "It's the kind of races he loves."
Zabeel Racing International's Richard's Kid, who used the Cougar II as a prep for the Pacific Classic last year, would be ridden in the San Diego by Russell Baze. The 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid was compromised by a slow pace in the July 10 Hollywood Gold Cup, forcing him to race closer to the pace than usual. He lacked his usual late zeal in finishing 3 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Awesome Gem.
His stablemates include Darley Stable's Sangaree, who returns to a route distance after rallying mildly to take second, beaten 3 1/4 lengths by E Z's Gentleman, in the seven-furlong Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I) earlier on the Gold Cup card. Sangaree ran second to Rail Trip in both the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) and the Californian (gr. II), also on Hollywood's Cushion Track, prior to that. In his only previous start at Del Mar, he ran fifth in last year's San Diego, 6 1/4 lengths behind the O'Neill-trained Informed .
The other Baffert stablemate is Peachtree Stable's Mythical Power, who has been favored in his past four starts but has only his win in the Texas Mile to show for it. He ran fourth in the Cornhusker Handicap (gr. II) at Prairie Meadows last time out June 26.
Michael House's millionaire Battle of Hastings has lost all four starts in 2010 and is in the throes of an eight-race losing streak since taking the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIT) and Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) in successive races at Colonial Downs more than a year ago. He has been close in almost all of those losses but is coming off the worst finish he has had in quite some time, a fifth in the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood June 5.
Others in the field are Dakota Phone, who has lost 15 in a row over the past two years, Deal Breaker, Isle of Giant's, Red Eye Express, and Tres Borrachos.
$200,000 San Diego Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 5:30p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Enriched (CA), P A Valenzuela, 117, D F O'Neill
2. Isle of Giant's (KY), A Quinonez, 113, B D Cecil
3. Deal Breaker (GB), R Bejarano, 115, M R Mitchell
4. Tres Borrachos (KY), D R Flores, 114, C B Greely
5. Sangaree (KY), M A Pedroza, 116, B Baffert
6. Red Eye Express (IRE), V Espinoza, 114, N D Drysdale
7. Battle of Hastings (GB), J Talamo, 118, J Mullins
8. Richard's Kid (MD), R A Baze, 122, B Baffert
9. Mythical Power (KY), M Garcia, 117, B Baffert
10. Dakota Phone (KY), J Rosario, 117, J Hollendorfer