08/28/2010 7:16PM

Del Mar: And Zenyatta yawned


Saturday's $1 million Pacific Classic did little to affect the rankings among older horses in California.

Richard's Kid may have defended his title in the only seven-figure Thoroughbred race in California this year, but the star of the older division in this state remains the mare Zenyatta.

Last fall, Richard's Kid finished sixth, 5 1-2 lengths behind Zenyatta, in the Breeders' Cup Classic, their only head-to-head meeting to date.

It's hard to say what Zenyatta would have done in the Pacific Classic. After all, the winner's style is similar to hers, suggesting she would have little trouble beating the field. Still, give credit to Richard's Kid, who closed from ninth in a field of 10 into a slow pace of 24.82 and 49.25 seconds to win by three-quarters of a length over 13-1 Crowded House. The Usual Q.T., the 5-2 favorite, could only finish fifth, fading in the final furlong. The two most disappointing performances of his season have come on synthetic tracks. He is obviously better on turf.

Richard's Kid, meanwhile, loves synthetic tracks, surfaces that trainer Bob Baffert has criticized repeatedly in recent years.

Baffert had the Pacific Classic on Richard's Kid's schedule since a return from a disappointing seventh in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in March. A third-place finish in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup in July was an acceptable comeback, but a third to Pacific Classic also-ran Temple City in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap on July 30 was a disappointment.

Richard's Kid performed brilliantly in workouts in late August, and again in Saturday's Pacific Classic. The Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6 is a long-term goal. How he fares in that race will determine whether Richard's Kid can be mentioned among the leading older horses in the United States, or whether he is a horse best on California's synthetic tracks.

Regardless, he is likely to face Zenyatta in that field. Her status as the number one horse in California faces no immediate threat.