Updated on 09/16/2011 8:09AM

New jockey, new distance

Congaree (above) comes into the Del Mar B.C. off two disappointing races.

DEL MAR, Calif. - A new jockey and a shorter race may help Congaree find the winner's circle in Monday's $250,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap.

After two disappointing performances by Congaree this summer, trainer Bob Baffert is willing to try nearly anything to revive the career of the 4-year-old Congaree, one of the top 3-year-olds of 2001. For the first time, Congaree will be ridden by Mike Smith in the one-mile Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap.

The race is shorter than the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 15 over 1 1/8 miles in which Congaree finished sixth, and the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 4 in which Congaree finished third.

While some things are different, Congaree's tactics remain the same. Baffert expects Smith to have Congaree forwardly placed. "He likes to get on the lead and go," Baffert said.

Congaree is the 119-pound highweight in the Grade 2 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, which drew five others, none of whom has won a stakes this year. Euchre, held out of the Pacific Classic in favor of this race by trainer Bobby Frankel, finished second in the San Diego, passing a tiring Congaree. Euchre is winless in six starts since the 2001 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

Kela, Pie n Burger, and Reba's Gold are seeking their first stakes wins. Prodigious, who drew the rail, is a longshot from Hastings Park.

Pie n Burger, claimed for $100,000 from Baffert on Aug. 15, could pressure Congaree early. The 4-year-old Pie n Burger has won three races this year, but was unplaced in three Grade 2 stakes at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita earlier this year.

Kela and Reba's Gold are stalkers who could be well-placed if Congaree falters. Kela has won his last two starts, allowance races at Hollywood Park and Del Mar. Trained by Eduardo Inda, he has been pointed to this race for nearly a month.

Reba's Gold has not started since finishing sixth in the Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park. Earlier this year, he finished second in the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park, a distance that trainer Dan Hendricks says is ideal.

"A mile seems to be perfect for him," Hendricks said. "He can be close to a fast pace and then wear them down. "We gave him a little break at Creston Farms for a few weeks. It was a mental freshening. He's run some big races down here and I hope to see another one."

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