Zabeel Racing International’s 7-year-old was winless in two tries to win the Cougar II Handicap, but rectified that situation this time around.
Patiently handled by jockey Rafael Bejarano, Richard’s Kid, carrying highweight of 123 pounds as the overwhelming 2-5 favorite, loped along in fifth place during the early stages of the lengthy contest, was swung out for room turning into the stretch the final time and powered away easily to win by 1 ½ lengths.
His time of 2:29.22 for the 12 furlongs bettered the track record of 2:29.39 set by Bourbon Bay in his Cougar II victory a year ago.
Longshot Worth Repeating, 12-1 under Mike Smith, held on well to be second, 3 ¾ lengths ahead of Balladry, with Dynamic Host fourth in the field of six horses.
Richard’s Kid, a son of Lemon Drop Kid conditioned by Bob Baffert, was second in the ’09 Cougar II behind Unusual Suspect and third to Temple City a year later. He came back after both defeats to win the Pacific Classic in his next start.
“We knew he was a good horse and he loves this track and he had worked really good over it,” said Baffert. He had them over a barrel today; he’s got so much class and he just loves this surface as we all know. The Pacific Classic is next.”
The stakes win was the fifth of the meet (most by any rider) for Bejarano. There have been nine stakes run at the session so far. It was his first win in the Cougar II, but his 24th at Del Mar.
The stakes win was the third of the meet for trainer Bob Baffert. It was his first victory in the Cougar II, but his 96th at Del Mar, the most by any trainer.
“It was almost like a bonus for me after I had my heart attack (days before the Dubai World Cup on March 31) when they told me I was getting Richard’s Kid back,” Baffert said. “I got saved (his own life) and I got Richard’s Kid, so something good came out of it.”
The victory was Richard’s Kid’s eleventh in 35 starts and first money of $60,000 increased his lifetime earnings to the brink of the $2 million mark, at $1,986,385.
–Del Mar Publicity contributed to this report.
Richard’s Kid/Benoit photo