07/27/2010 2:25PM

Richard's Kid weighs options for Pacific Classic prep


DEL MAR, Calif. – Richard’s Kid is the defending champion of Del Mar’s biggest race, the $1 million Pacific Classic. After finishing third in the Hollywood Gold Cup earlier this month, he is scheduled to have one local prep for the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic. But whether that comes on Friday, in the Cougar II Handicap at 1 1/2 miles, or Saturday, in the San Diego Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, is still to be determined.

Richard’s Kid is entered in the Cougar II, a race in which he finished second last year prior to the Pacific Classic, and that seemed the most likely spot in which he would run this week. But on Tuesday morning, trainer Bob Baffert was still mulling over which of his older runners to put in the San Diego, and Richard’s Kid was part of that mix, along with Mythical Power, Sangaree, and Spurrier.

The San Diego also is scheduled to include Battle of Hastings, a turf specialist who will attempt a switch to the synthetic Polytrack surface. He worked five furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track surface Tuesday morning in 1:00.20 for trainer Jeff Mullins.

Battle of Hastings largely has been ridden by Tyler Baze, but with Baze sidelined with facial fractures, Joe Talamo will take over. Battle of Hastings was fifth of 10 in the Grade 1 Whittingham Stakes on June 5. He was third in the Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita and fourth in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, in other Grade 1 grass races earlier this year.

Others expected for the San Diego include Dakota Phone, Deal Breaker, Isle of Giant’s, Slew’s Tiznow, Tres Borrachos, and Enriched, who finished third in the Eddie Read on Saturday but will be wheeled back by the meet’s leading trainer, Doug O’Neill, after being supplemented to the race for $2,000 on Sunday.

Cassidy savors stakes sweep

Trainer Jim Cassidy swept the weekend’s graded stakes races with The Usual Q.T. in the Eddie Read and Evening Jewel in the San Clemente and also won races with two promising youngsters, the 3-year-old allowance turf runner Kid Edward and the 3-year-old maiden filly Nicole’s X S, capping off a stellar opening week.

“Thinking about being able to do this and then doing this are two different things,” Cassidy said.

All four could run again this meet.

The Usual Q.T. is being considered for three races, the Arlington Million in Chicago on Aug. 21, or the Pacific Classic Aug. 28 or Del Mar Handicap Aug. 29 here.

“We’re going to keep our options open,” Cassidy said. “We’ll monitor the weather in Chicago.

“He really peaked last year for the Hollywood Derby,” Cassidy said. “I’ve never been so confident in him again until this race here. The way he worked the other day, it gave me goosebumps just watching him. It’s an honor and a privilege to have one like him.”

Victor Espinoza, who rode The Usual Q.T. and Evening Jewel, said The Usual Q.T. “is better now.”

“He’s impressive,” Espinoza said.

Evening Jewel will come back in the Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 21.

“I told Victor I thought she’d be pretty keen,” Cassidy said. “She’s been very volatile the last couple of weeks.

Kid Edward returned from a seven-month layoff with a sharp victory Friday. He could come back in the La Jolla Stakes on Aug. 14 or await the Del Mar Derby on Sept. 5.

“He’s a lovely horse,” Cassidy said. “He had a shin after his maiden win at Santa Anita. We gave him time, maybe too much. He’s a big, good-looking sucker. I wasn’t sure I had him tight enough, which shows how good he is.

Nicole’s X S won first time out against maidens Saturday.

“She’s a big, strapping filly, and mean as a snake,” Cassidy said. “She didn’t run until now because she had 2-year-old issues – shins, tibias.”

Eurton hurtin’, but recovering

Trainer Pete Eurton is slowly recovering from a frightening incident last week in which a horse he trained attacked him, savagely biting him around the waist during a schooling session gone awry at the starting gate.

According to Eurton, Silent Affair, an unraced 4-year-old male, got loose while at the starting gate and then made a beeline for Eurton, who was atop his pony.

“He locked onto to me, picked me up, and threw me off the pony,” said Eurton, who credited Del Mar’s starting gate crew with bravely distracting Silent Affair while Eurton could be brought to safety.

“Once he got a hold of me, everything went black,” Eurton said. “I’m really lucky. I could blank for the rest of the year and really feel fortunate. He could have hurt me really bad. When he locked on, it was kind of scary.”

Eurton still sports an ugly bite mark on his side, and his torso is black and blue all around his waist. Because of the large amount of fluid from the trauma, doctors at Scripps Hospital in nearby Encinitas, Calif., have placed a medical wrap around his waist.

As for Silent Affair, “he was castrated an hour later,” Eurton said.