Updated on 09/15/2011 12:42PM

Finally, a spot for Casino King


DEL MAR, Calif. - Simon Bray is hoping that good things come to those who wait. And wait. And wait some more. The trainer had Casino King, he said, "ready to run two or three weeks ago," but a paucity of long-distance turf races that suit him kept Casino King in the barn.

Bray has to wait no more. Casino King, who has won twice in three starts since Bray took over as his trainer, gets back to the races in Wednesday's $75,000 Escondido Handicap, which kicks off Week Three at Del Mar.

Casino King's task will not be easy. He is racing for the first time in more than two months, and has at least two serious challengers in Cagney and - no, not Lacey - Devon Deputy. The Escondido, at 1 3/8 miles on turf, drew a field of seven.

Casino King has won twice in four starts on the Del Mar turf. This will be his first race on this course since moving to Bray, who sent out Casino King to a pair of stakes victories in northern California this spring.

"I gave him a little break. He lost a lot of weight after his last race," Bray said.

Casino King's lone loss this year came in Hollywood Park's Inglewood Handicap, in which he finished third after setting a moderate pace. Casino King was lugging out in that race, so Bray changed the type of bit Casino King wears.

"It's a leather prong," Bray said. "It helps with control.

"It's like giving a rider more power-steering fluid," Bray added, laughing.

There is little pace in this race, so Casino King could inherit the lead, as he did in his first two starts this year. He settled and then finished in his last start, going 1 1/16 miles, which Bray found encouraging. "He acted like he wants to run long," Bray said.

Cagney, an import from Brazil, has raced three times in this country for trainer Richard Mandella, and comes the best performance since his arrival. He closed sharply to finish second, beaten just a nose by I've Decided, in a highly rated one-mile turf race at Hollywood Park on

July 12. His lone stakes try in this country came in the Grade 1 Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park, in which he finished sixth. This is a considerably easier spot.

Devon Deputy makes his first start since March 11 for the red-hot Bobby Frankel barn, which won stakes races last week with Lido Palace, Skimming, and Thady Quill. Devon Deputy steadily improved last fall and this winter, and just missed against Blueprint in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes at Santa Anita in his last start.

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