07/28/2013 6:56PM

Del Mar: Kettle Corn, Paynter could get rematch in Pacific Classic

Benoit & Associates
Kettle Corn wins Saturday's Grade 2 San Diego Handicap by a half-length over Paynter.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Kettle Corn and Paynter, the first two finishers of Saturday’s Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, might have a rematch in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 25.

Trainer John Sadler said the Pacific Classic is the primary goal for Kettle Corn. Trainer Bob Baffert said Paynter also will be considered for the $750,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 31.

“It will either be the Pacific Classic or the Woodward,” Baffert said.

Kettle Corn closed from last in a field of six to finish a half-length in front of Paynter in the San Diego Handicap, run over 1 1/16 miles on the Polytrack synthetic surface. The San Diego was the most prestigious win for Kettle Corn, a 6-year-old who races for Lee and Susan Searing.

“He likes synthetic, and he likes this track,” Sadler said Sunday. “He got some pace in front of him, and he got some breaks.”

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Kettle Corn has won 8 of 24 starts and $653,111. The San Diego was his first stakes win since the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park in December 2011.

Kettle Corn’s win spoiled the 2013 stakes debut of Paynter, who won the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational in 2012 and later survived severe bouts with laminitis and colic. Paynter resumed training last winter and won his comeback race, an allowance at Hollywood Park in June.

On Sunday, Baffert questioned whether Paynter handled the surface.

“He ran great,” Baffert said. “He couldn’t untrack himself. He needed the race.”

Batti Man, who finished third in the San Diego, will not start in the Pacific Classic, trainer Dan Hendricks said. A 5-year-old Argentine-bred, Batti Man will be considered for the $200,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 18.

Batti Man, sent off at 34-1, set the pace in the San Diego and was beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Kettle Corn.

“It was probably the best race he’s ever run,” Hendricks said. “He fought them to the finish.”

Baffert has the leading contender for the Pacific Classic in Game On Dude, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 6 for his fifth consecutive win and his fourth win of 2013.

On Sunday, Baffert said on his Twitter feed that Joel Rosario has been booked to ride Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic. Mike Smith, who has ridden Game On Dude during his current winning streak, is booked to ride Royal Delta in the $600,000 Personal Ensign at Saratoga the same day.