06/09/2012 12:00PM

Hollywood Park: Richard’s Kid comes back strong in Prove It Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Richard's Kid wins the Prove It Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park by 7 1/4 lengths.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Richard’s Kid resumed his California career in Friday’s $71,650 Prove It Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park with a convincing win that left him with a leading role in the handicap division.

While the minor Prove It Stakes was not as prestigious of a win as the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes in October 2010, the horse’s last start on this circuit, Friday’s result showed that Richard’s Kid belongs in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 7, which trainer Bob Baffert mentioned as a goal before the Prove It.

“It was good for him, let him come back,” Baffert said of Friday’s race.

Baffert did not attend the race; he heard the result from New York, where he had Paynter entered in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

Baffert trained Richard’s Kid in 2009 and 2010 – years in which the horse won the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. Owner Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed al-Maktoum had Richard’s Kid sent to Dubai in fall 2010 after a win in the Goodwood. Richard’s Kid was winless in five starts in that country, including a fourth in the Godolphin Mile on the Dubai World Cup undercard earlier this year.

Friday’s Prove It Stakes over 1 3/8 miles was run to suit Richard’s Kid. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Richard’s Kid was near the front for the first half-mile before taking the lead. Through a slow pace – a half-mile in 50.65 seconds and six furlongs in 1:15.19 – Richard’s Kid led by a length on the backstretch, a margin that increased rapidly through the stretch.

“He’s just one paced,” Baffert said. “I told [Bejarano] to let him break and keep him comfortable.”

Richard’s Kid led by 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining and won the race over 1 3/8 miles by 7 1/4 lengths as the 4-5 favorite. He was timed in 2:16.43. Dynamic Host, winner of the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap at Santa Anita in March, was second in the field of five.

Baffert said that Richard’s Kid’s lightly raced campaign in Dubai in 2010 and 2011 has helped the horse.

“When I got him, he was in excellent shape,” he said.

The long-term goal is the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 26. Another option to reach that race is to skip the Gold Cup with Richard’s Kid in favor of a start in the $100,000 Cougar II Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on the Polytrack maint track at Del Mar on July 27.

Baffert already has the favorite for the Hollywood Gold Cup in Game On Dude, winner of the Grade 2 Californian Stakes on June 2. He now has two leading contenders.

◗ One horse unlikely to start in the Gold Cup is the 9-year-old veteran Awesome Gem. The promoted winner of the Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on May 28, Awesome Gem is based at Hollywood Park with trainer Craig Dollase, who said the $200,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 19 is a long-range goal.

“If we could defend our title, that would be fun,” Dollase said last week.