Race Preview: Del Mar – Cougar II Handicap, July 26, 2013
The feature race on Friday is the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap for three-year-olds and upward at 12 furlongs on the main Polytrack. The race drew originally drew a field of 11, but with the scratches of Golden Itiz and Kettle Corn, only nine will break from the gate. After the scratch of Kettle Corn this morning, Sky Kingdom inherits the favorite’s role.
Sky Kingdom may have had this race on the radar after drawing off to win the 12-furlong Grade 3 Tokyo City at Santa Anita in March. After flopping in the San Juan Cap on the turf in April, the son of Empire Maker returned to a third place finish in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup earlier this month. He has tactical speed and has been working very well in the mornings. He is winless at Del Mar in two starts, but those came in his two-year-old season in five and one-half furlong sprints. He has come a long way since.
Richard’s Kid, shown winning the 2009 Pacific Classic, is the grizzly veteran of the group at age eight having won 11 of 45 starts for earnings of over $2.3-million. He is a two-time winner of the Pacific Classic and won the Cougar II last year. Trainer Doug O’Neill has had a tough start to the meet, but if there was any time for Richard’s Kid to get back into the winner’s circle, it’s Friday night.
Three long shots for the upset are Mr T Bird, Lime Rickey and Oilisblackgold, three horses that will all be doing their best running late. Oilisblackgold has more early speed than the two and jockey Edwin Maldonado may opt to run with the favorite early. If he does that it could create a fast enough scenario to flatter the late kicks of Mr T Bird and Lime Rickey. Mr T Bird is coming off an easy win over the turf at Hollywood Park and appears to love the Del Mar surface. Lime Rickey is making his synthetic debut, but with 39 of his career 41 starts on the turf, he should handle the switch just fine.
First post on the Friday twilight card is 7:00 pm ET with the Cougar II off at 10:00.