Richard’s Kid (left, pre-race) served notice he has returned
to top form with a convincing victory at Del Mar in the grade 3 Cougar II Handicap on Friday. After an 18-month
stint in Dubai, Richard’s Kid returned to the US this year to win a non-graded
stakes and place in the Hollywood Gold Cup.
He had previously finished second and third in the Cougar II (2009 and
2010 respectively), but the third time was the charm as he defeated a field of
five foes in record setting fashion in the 2012 edition. Richard’s Kid stopped the clock in 2:29.22,
and trainer Bob Baffert is pointing him toward a repeat performance in the
Pacific Classic, a race which he won in 2009 and 2010.
Another big horse returned in a big way on Saturday—this
time it was Rail Trip, who was previously winless in nearly two years after a
tumultuous foray into east coast racing.
Once returned to the care of trainer Ron Ellis, Rail Trip made two unsuccessful
starts before last weekend’s grade II San Diego Handicap. After stalking the pace much of the way
around, Rail Trip made his move coming out of the turn for home and held on to
win by a half-length. Like Richard’s
Kid, Rail Trip is pointed to the August 26 Pacific Classic, though he may
eventually run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile as the win in the San Diego
secured him a spot in the starting gate.
Just a day earlier, 2011 Haskell winner Coil made his first
start in nine months a winning one (right).
In a 7 furlong allowance/ optional claiming event, Coil won easily under
a hand ride from current meet-leading jockey Rafael Bejarano, defeating veteran Mensa Heat among
others. He came out of it well and was
full of himself the next morning, though his next race is yet to be decided.
In other graded stakes action this weekend, champion Amazombie
cruised in the grade 1 Bing Crosby, with jockey Mike Smith saying the horse is
bigger, stronger, and even better than last year. Time will tell, as trainer Bill Spawr once again plans to run in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship
(formerly the Ancient Title) and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.