07/27/2013 9:19PM

Del Mar: Kettle Corn foils Paynter in deep stretch of San Diego

Benoit & Associates
Kettle Corn, scratched out of the Cougar II Handicap on Friday, rallies to win the biggest race of his career in the San Diego Handicap.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Kettle Corn, a 6-year-old who has often been overshadowed by his rival Game On Dude in the last 18 months, won the biggest race of his career in Saturday’s $200,250 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, catching the heavily favored, and sentimental choice, Paynter in the final furlong.

Paynter, the winner of the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in July 2012 who later survived severe bouts with laminitis and colitis, finished second after leading in the stretch. Sent off at 3-5, Paynter looked like winner in the final furlong but could not hold off Kettle Corn, losing by a half-length.

The San Diego was Paynter’s second start since returning to training last winter. A 4-year-old, Paynter won an allowance race at Betfair Hollywood Park in June.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano said that Paynter struggled over the Polytrack synthetic surface.

“I felt like I had a ton of horse,” Bejarano said. “He didn’t feel comfortable on the track.”

Kettle Corn ($9.20) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.83 under jockey Victor Espinoza. A horse by Candy Ride, Kettle Corn races for Lee and Susan Searing and is trained by John Sadler.

Espinoza had Kettle Corn last in the field of six for the first six furlongs, well off the pace of 23.41 and 47.28 seconds set by the 34-1 outsider Batti Man. On the turn, Espinoza moved Kettle Corn to the inside and then angled him three-wide for the stretch run.

Paynter, second to Batti Man to the turn, took the lead in the stretch. Paynter carried top weight of 122 pounds, four more than Kettle Corn.

Batti Man finished third, followed by Chief Havoc, Liaison, and Clubhouse Ride.

The Grade 2 San Diego Handicap was Kettle Corn’s first stakes win since the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park in December 2011. Last month, Kettle Corn was second to Game on Dude in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup. Kettle Corn finished second or third behind Game On Dude in three other stakes from early June through December 2012.

“He’s been a very good honest horse,” Sadler said. “He’s a blue-collar horse and runs his race every time. He deserves to win one of these big ones. He’s good on this track.”

Kettle Corn has won 8 of 24 starts and $653,111.

Sadler had Kettle Corn entered for Friday’s Cougar II Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on the synthetic main track, but scratched from that race in favor of a start in the San Diego. Sadler said after the San Diego that Kettle Corn is a candidate for the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 25, a race expected to draw Game On Dude.

“I think a mile and a half is tough on them,” Sadler said, explaining the scratch. “If he runs twice at this meeting, I wanted to go in the shorter race” this weekend.


John Nicoletti More than 1 year ago
Paynter carrying top weight of 122 lbs, coming off a layoff, near death and runs this kind of a race, tells us what a special horse he truly is. He should improve, and will be a contender in the Classic.
Shannon Cramer More than 1 year ago
Paynter carried top weight of 122 pounds, four more than Kettle Corn.
Mad Vaper More than 1 year ago
Baffert needs to get Paynter out of Cali.....he's a dirt horse and that cushion crap out there is funky for alot of horses. I know Cali and Del Mar is home for all the connections but send him east and let him clean up on some dirt. I wouldn't fear Fort Larned too much plus there;s plenty of spots to choose from. Gotta run the horse where it makes sense and that sense is dirt not poly.
Mark More than 1 year ago
good horse paynter. not a great one . period. end of story.
Holybull More than 1 year ago
In defense of the horse Paynter ran extremely well considering he was almost dead last year and had not run since. Will there ever be a day when we see a Baffert Trained horse who does not NEED the lead early to win? Some trainers who's beginnings can be traced to quarter horse racing can never make a smooth thoroughbred transition without taking with them the bad habits. I'm convinced that Baffert wins as many races as he does because the fields of horses in California are so tiny that a lone speed horse is very dangerous and often gets away with a lonesome (uncontested) lead. Baffert is over-rated as are his horses like G.O.D and other "speed specialists".
Phillip Rodgers More than 1 year ago
painter had run since then ...painter was not on the lead..and the track has been speed bias all meet. remind me not to go in on any tickets with you.
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
Let's see, just some of Baffert's horse's that dont NEED the lead.......Silver Charm, Real Quite, Point Given, Lookin at Lucky, Pioneer of The Nile,Silverbulletday,....etc.etc. Yea, he has alot of bad habits.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Congrats to the old-timers at Del Mar in the opening two weeks of the meet. Kettle Corn at age 6 wins the gr.2 San Diego, Jeranimo at 7 wins the gr.1 Eddie Read, and Richard's Kid at age 8 repeats in the gr.3 Cougar. Interestingly, all 3 are full horses(not geldings).
Phillip Rodgers More than 1 year ago
the cougar was a joke. Richarsd kids lucky to beat claiming company these days. I originally didn't understand why kettle got outta that cake field but now I see. glad it worked out.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Paynter ran valiant in defeat, while inexplicably having to give 4 lbs to Kettle Corn. Weight aside, Paynter was beaten on the square by Kettle Corn and had to work very hard to just get 2nd over Batti Man. Raffy was having to really scrub on him on the far turn just to reach even terms with Batti Man and he never was able to separate from that longshot. It all just seemed really hard for Paynter. This going counter to how Paynter looked in the paddock and post parade, as if he were ready to run out of his skin. Evidently Raffy was expecting an explosive performance as well given his comments. This all leads me to support Raffy's conclusion that the surface just did not bring out the best in Paynter. The fact Paynter didn't take to the Del Mar poly should come as no surprise given Zayat and Baffert's pre-race concerns over his lackluster training last year and works this year that were, at best, merely equal with Liaison. With Liaison running poorly, Baffert may decide to go ahead and run both Paynter and Dude in the Pacific Classic given the race is worth $1 million and that the surface isn't Dude's favorite either. And while there are reasons to believe Paynter will run better next time out, the waters will get even deeper if he runs in the Pacific Classic. In addition to having to run 10 furlongs for the 1st time, Paynter will have to contend with defending champ Dullahan, polytrack expert Delegation, stablemate Game on Dude, multiple grade 1 winner Jeranimo, as well as Kettle Corn and Batti Man. And it's unlikely Paynter is going to grow fond of the track in the interim. My expectation has always been that Dude will stay in Cali for the Pacific Classic while Paynter will go East for dirt in a race like the Woodward. As for Kettle Corn, he's my early Pacific Classic favorite. Although Kettle Corn has only won 2 graded stakes, he has been remarkably consistent, placing in 7 other graded stakes. And in his last 22 starts, he's finished in the money 18 times and only once has finished worse than 4th. And his last two efforts were the best of his career.
BobbyPS11 More than 1 year ago
Good analysis Jordan.
jttf More than 1 year ago
top four horses did not use lasix at 2 years of age.
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
Sets up the PC, don't know if all three will run, but I think god will surely be tested if all three run. Paynter is the sentimental choice, but any one on a given day. This race was really fast and it should have helped Paynter the most . Would be a great race for the racing public.
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
So, a horse got back from the death bed, but won convincingly. Next time out, ran heart out, lost by just a bit, and NEEDED A RACE ? Why such lame excuse now ? He ran good, but wasnt the best today. He aint going to beat this old veteran on this track ever. Hate to hear that he needed a race. Just say he was second best today thats all.....
bill n More than 1 year ago
Too bad he had to give four pounds to the FAR superior horse right?