07/28/2010 1:55PM

Cougar II at Del Mar one prep option for Richard's Kid


DEL MAR, Calif. – Richard’s Kid was a busy horse at the 2009 Del Mar meeting. He made three starts in seven weeks, and won the season’s biggest race – the $1 million Pacific Classic.

The Pacific Classic is the goal again this year, on Aug. 28, but getting there will not be as strenuous. Trainer Bob Baffert has one start planned for Richard’s Kid in the buildup, Friday’s $125,000 Cougar II Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on the Polytrack synthetic surface or Saturday’s $200,000 San Diego Handicap.

Baffert spent much of Wednesday morning leaning toward the Cougar II with Richard’s Kid, and then entered in the San Diego, too.

“I cross-entered,” Baffert said. “I’m just going to look at it and see how [my horses] are doing.

“I want to get a race into him before the Pacific Classic.”

While Richard’s Kid may be ideally suited to races over 1 1/4 miles, he nearly won the Cougar II Handicap last year, finishing a nose behind Unusual Suspect, who is part of this year’s Cougar II field. Unusual Suspect is winless in eight starts this year, and has placed in three stakes.

The Cougar II is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering an automatic berth for the winner to the BC Dirt Marathon at Churchill Downs in November. Baffert has the BC Classic as a long-term goal for Richard’s Kid.

Owned by Zabeel Racing, Richard’s Kid was third in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10, finishing 3 1/4 lengths behind Awesome Gem. The Gold Cup was Richard’s Kid’s first start since a seventh in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in March.

In the Cougar II Handicap, Richard’s Kid is part of a field of seven and should get a good trip. Temple City, second by a head in the Grade 2 American Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on July 4, is likely to set the pace, and could be joined by the mare Princess Taylor, who was second in the Grade 3 Beverly Hills Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf on June 26.

Trainer Carla Gaines said the distance should not be a problem for Temple City.

“He ran well here going a mile and three-eighths on grass,” Gaines said. “I’d like to win a [graded] race with him.”