How to bet the Cougar II Stakes
A compact field of six will travel 1 1/2 miles over the main strip at Del Mar in Sunday’s $100,000 Cougar II S. (G3). I believe that the event is a very straightforward one from a betting perspective.
Cougar II Contenders
#1 HEYWOODS BEACH (4-1) -- First from the Sadler shedrow was last seen finishing a distant fifth in the recent Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita. Capable son of Speightstown draws well on the rail, but he is a mystery at the 12-furlong trip and I don’t love his chances to excel at the voyage on Sunday. Tyler Baze will ride the likely pace presser.
#2 CONTAGION (6-1) -- Fed Biz gelding has shown improvement since being claimed for $20,000 by conditioner Peter Miller four back, with two wins and a second for his new connections. The dark bay has undoubtedly been better since adding blinkers in February, and he will stretch out following a one-mile tilt as a complete wildcard taking a major class rise. Juan Hernandez inherits the mount.
#3 CAMPAIGN (8-1) -- Win contender took this race in 2019 and will appreciate the return to the Golden State for Sadler. The Curlin six-year-old has not been sharp this campaign, but much of that has been due to running against the imposing Lone Rock in three straight. Deep closer fired a bullet six furlongs most recently and sits at a very generous price with McCarthy up.
#4 RED KING (4-1) -- Grade 2 winner on the lawn for D’Amato has yet to run on the dirt in 33 career starts. The chestnut son of English Channel is surely classy enough to be a major player in the field, but the seven-year-old is hard to back with total confidence until he shows something on the dirt. Rispoli will guide the talented Kentucky-bred.
#5 CUPID’S CLAWS (3-1) -- Craig Dollase pupil ran the best race of his lifetime at the 12-furlong distance when dominating the 2020 Tokyo City S. (G3) by more than seven lengths. Kitten’s Joy gelding is winless in two tries this season, and he will also run with blinkers on for the Cougar II, following a subpar allowance try at Santa Anita most recently. The chestnut did smoke a half-mile bullet over the surface, however, and having Mike Smith in the irons is always a positive, too.
#6 TIZAMAGICIAN (8-5) -- Mandella-trained colt is the pace, and class, of the field with a clear outside draw. The four-year-old son of Tiznow has fine form and is proven at the trip, evidenced by his 2021 Tokyo City romp two prior. Recently second in the deep Brooklyn S. (G2) on the Belmont S. (G1) undercard, the Kentucky-bred could be on the front end from the start on Sunday. Flavien Prat stays in the stirrups.
Cougar II Wagers
- $30 exacta 6 with 3 ($30)
- $10 exacta 3 with 6 ($10)