07/25/2012 2:26PM

Del Mar: Richard's Kid takes a third shot at Cougar II Handicap

Shigeki Kikkawa
Richard's Kid is the heavy favorite for Friday's Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Considering his lofty status in the California handicap division, Richard’s Kid seems to have Friday’s $150,000 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar at his mercy.

There’s one little problem. He has lost the race twice.

“He’s never been able to win the Cougar II,” trainer Bob Baffert said.

In 2010, the last year that Richard’s Kid started in the race, he finished third as the even-money favorite. In 2009, he finished second in the race.

Despite those losses, Richard’s Kid will be a heavy favorite in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap, which is run over 1 1/2 miles on Polytrack. A 7-year-old horse, Richard’s Kid was a game second to division leader, and stablemate, Game On Dude in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 7.

In his last start here, Richard’s Kid won the track’s biggest race, the 2010 Pacific Classic. He spent all of 2011 and the early part of this year in Dubai, going winless in five starts.

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In his return to California, Richard’s Kid won the Prove It Stakes by 7 1/4 lengths over 1 3/8 miles at Hollywood Park on June 8. Dynamic Host and Balladry were second and third in the Prove It, but did not start in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

They are part of a six-horse field in the Cougar II, but their trainers are not optimistic about their chances. Asked what it would take to beat Richard’s Kid, Eoin Harty, who trains Balladry, said, “An act of God.”

Balladry was third in the Prove It, beaten 9 1/2 lengths. A winner of 3 of 15 starts and $162,138, Balladry, 4, has yet to win a stakes, but is better suited to the conditions of the Cougar II Handicap compared to Saturday’s San Diego Handicap over 1 1/16 miles.

“A mile and a half is right up his alley,” Harty said. “The San Diego would have been a little short. I thought this avenue would work.”

Art Sherman thought he was ducking Richard’s Kid with Dynamic Host.

“I was shocked that he was going to run,” Sherman said.

Dynamic Host won the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap over 1 1/2 miles at Santa Anita in March. Similar to Richard’s Kid and Balladry, Dynamic Host is likely to run from off the pace.

“He’s been a tough horse when he runs his race,” Sherman said. “He has run well on synthetic.”