07/27/2012 9:37PM

Del Mar: Richard’s Kid closes strong to win Cougar II Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Richard's Kid, with Rafael Bejarano up, scores an easy victory in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap on Friday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Richard’s Kid had an ideal trial race for the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 26 in Friday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar, winning his second stakes of the year with minimal effort.

Richard’s Kid won the Pacific Classic in 2009 and 2010 and will be a leading contender in this year’s running.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano on Friday, Richard’s Kid ($2.80) closed from last in a field of six in the final three furlongs to win the race over 1 1/2 miles on the Polytrack main surface in track-record time of 2:29.22.

The previous record of 2:29.32 was set by Bourbon Bay in the 2011 Cougar II Handicap.

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Bejarano rode Richard’s Kid with confidence. He rated Richard’s Kid in fifth or sixth for the first mile, rallied wide on the final turn, and got an immediate response in early stretch.

“This race was to prepare him for the big race,” Bejarano said. “He looked so good today, and I had a lot of confidence.”

Worth Repeating, who was claimed for $62,500 in consecutive starts at Betfair Hollywood Park in May and June, finished second, followed by Balladry, Dynamic Host, Fly Lexis Fly, and Romp.

Richard’s Kid, 7, races for Zabeel Racing International and trainer Bob Baffert. A horse by Lemon Drop Kid, Richard’s Kid has won 11 of 35 starts and $1,986,385.