07/26/2013 10:45PM

Del Mar: Richard's Kid ends long drought with Cougar II defense

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Benoit & Associates
Richard's Kid and Joe Talamo run past Sky Kingdom and Blueskiesnrainbows to win the Cougar II on Friday.

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Richard’s Kid ended a year of frustration, and a span of 10 losses, with a thrilling defense of his title in Friday’s $100,500 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, Richard’s Kid ($10.80) closed from sixth in a field of seven to win the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap over 1 1/2 miles by a half-length over even-money favorite Sky Kingdom. Pacesetter Blueskiesnrainbows was third.

Richard’s Kid was timed in 2:30.93.

Talamo, riding Richard’s Kid for the first time in the 8-year-old horse’s 46th career start, was left impressed with the way his mount finished from off the pace.

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“The inside speed bias has been unreal at this meet,” Talamo said. “You have to be in front or second or third.

“For him to come from behind, it felt like they were really flying the last part. The two horses in front weren’t stopping.”

The win is likely to lead to a start in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on Aug. 25 for Richard’s Kid, who won the race in 2009 and 2010. Richard’s Kid was third in the 2012 Pacific Classic.

Richard’s Kid was at the back of the field in the Cougar II Handicap for the first mile. Blueskiesnrainbows, the winner of the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in July 2012, set an early pace of 25.14 and 49.93 seconds, closely followed by Sky Kingdom.

[DEL MAR 2013: Complete meet coverage, schedule, race replays]

With a furlong remaining, Blueskiesnrainbows led by a half-length over Sky Kingdom, who challenged for the lead in deep stretch. Richard’s Kid, racing wide, passed Sky Kingdom in the final sixteenth to win for the 12th time in his career. He has earned $2,422,284.

Richard’s Kid is trained by Doug O’Neill and is owned by Dave Kenny, Paul Boghossian, Mark Verge, Dan Kramer and Steve Keh, who acquired the horse last August, a week before the Pacific Classic.