08/16/2013 3:17PM

Del Mar: Richard's Kid earns way into Pacific Classic

Benoit & Associates
Richard's Kid gets up to win the Cougar II at Del Mar and secure a spot in the Pacific Classic.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Richard’s Kid revived his career with a gutty win in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar on July 26. Had Richard’s Kid lost, a start in the $1 million Pacific Classic Stakes on Aug. 25 would have been illogical, according to trainer Doug O’Neill.

“He had to win that,” O’Neill said. “We wanted to see it for it to make sense.”

An 8-year-old horse, Richard’s Kid won the Cougar II at 1 1/2 miles on the Polytrack synthetic surface by a hard-fought half-length over Sky Kingdom. The win gave O’Neill and the large partnership that owns Richard’s Kid a reason to target the Pacific Classic. Richard’s Kid won the Pacific Classic in 2009 and 2010 when trained by Bob Baffert.

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If Richard’s Kid wins the Pacific Classic, he would be the first three-time winner of Del Mar’s richest race, first run in 1991. He would do so for a third different owner. Arnold Zetcher owned Richard’s Kid when he won in 2009, but had sold the horse to Sheikh Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai’s Zabeel Racing International by the following year.

Richard’s Kid currently races for Dave Kenney, Paul Boghossian, Mark Verge, Dan Kramer and Steve Keh, who acquired the horse last August, a week before he finished third in the Pacific Classic.

On Friday, Richard’s Kid had his final workout before the Pacific Classic, going six furlongs in 1:13.60. O’Neill timed him in 1:13.40, galloping out a mile in 1:39.20.

Jockey Joe Talamo worked Richard’s Kid, and did not ask the 8-year-old horse for a significant effort until the stretch. Talamo rode Richard’s Kid for the first time in the Cougar II Handicap. A winner of 12 of 46 starts and $2,422,284, Richard’s Kid closed from sixth in a field of seven to reach the front in the final furlong.

“There was a point in the Cougar, when I thought, ‘Uh oh,’ ” O’Neill said. “The horse responded for (Talamo) and ran great.”

The win in the Cougar II ended a 10-race losing streak for Richard’s Kid, dating to the 2012 Cougar II when the horse was trained by Baffert.This will be the fourth time that Richard’s Kid has started in the Pacific Classic. Richard’s Kid has thrived on Del Mar’s Polytrack surface, winning 4 of 7 starts and $1,485,000 on it in his career.

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“He has a love of this track and Del Mar,” O’Neill said. “The plan was to save him for this meet.”

Richard’s Kid is part of a probable field of 12 for the Pacific Classic, which is run at 1 1/4 miles. Game On Dude, the winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup at Betfair Hollywood Park on July 6, will be favored. The other probable starters are Byrama, Delegation, Dullahan, Endorsement, Farraaj, Hawk’s Eyes, Jeranimo, Kettle Corn, Liaison, and You Know I Know.

Dullahan is the defending champion.