Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 2 Cougar II Handicap comes our way from Del Mar Race Track in beautiful Del Mar, California this Friday, July 26. Horses three years old and upward will be featured as they go 1 1/2 miles on Del Mar's dirt track in search of the winner's share of the $100,000 purse.
The Cougar II Handicap has attracted a field of 11 for race 7 on Del Mar's Friday schedule. Post time is 7:00 PM. Here is a brief glance into the past performances of all 11 combatants for this Grade 2 stakes.
Richard's Kid - is the defending champion in this race, finished second here in 2009 and third in 2010. He has raced all around the world for trainer Doug O'Neill but has really struggled of late placing in only five of his past 10 starts. He had a fourth in the Grade 3 Native Diver in December, an ugly tenth in the Grade 2 San Marcos February 9 and sixth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 2 but rebounded with an OK third three weeks later with a third in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap. He followed that with another OK result - a third in the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland April 21 but struggled again to a seventh in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs May 3. Last time out was another third - in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special May 17 at Churchill Downs. He has 45 starts with 11 wins but hasn't tasted victory since July - in last year's Cougar II Handicap. This race seems to bring the best out in Richard's Kid!
Kettle Corn - has placed in 12 of his last 14 starts and is coming off a good second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup behind Game On Dude after a fourth in the Grade 2 Californian June 1, a second to Liaison in the Grade 2 Mervyn Leroy Handicap May 4, a third in the Grade 3 Native Dancer Stakes December 1 and an Allowance score November 8 - his only win in the last 18 months. He also had two consecutive wins at the end of 2011 including the Grade 3 Native Diver. Kettle Corn has two seconds in three starts this year and enters in so-so form. He hasn't tasted victory since the 2011 Native Diver Handicap but has done well in the past at Del Mar.
Sky Kingdom - Bob Baffert trained Sky Kingdom had been out of action for nearly a year and returned to a win in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Santa Anita January 24 and a third in an Allowance February 22. He had his most impressive result to date - a win over Richard's Kid in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths at Santa Anita March 23 with a Beyer Speed Figure of 104 but followed that with a disappointing sixth as favorite in his first start on turf in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano April 21. Last time out was an OK third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap July 6 behind Game On Dude and Kettle Corn. He has won four times in 11 career starts with two third place finishes.
Oilisblackgold - had a couple of OK showings in graded stakes action in 2011 but focused on Allowance Optional Claiming up until March 2013 - seven straight yielded two wins, two seconds and two third place finishes. He stepped up and registered a very nice second behind Sky Kingdom and ahead of Richard's Kid in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita March 23 to re-emerge on the graded stakes radar and then finished a respectable third in the ultra-competitive Grade 2 Californian at Hollywood Park June 1. Last time out was a disappointing fifth in the field of five in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap July 6. He has just three wins in 27 career starts but two of them have come in his last six starts with a good second and a third in two graded stakes races but has yet to break through with a win in stakes company.
Blueskiesnrainbows - Jerry Hollendorfer pupil won the Grade 1 Swaps Stakes on July 4, 2012 but hasn't been the same since. He was an OK fourth in the Grade 2 Mervyn Leroy as 2-1 favorite at Hollywood Park May 4 2012 to follow a nice Allowance Optional Claiming score by 3 3/4 lengths March 22 and a pair of seconds in Allowance Optional Claiming to start his 2013 campaign. Last time out was a fourth in an Allowance at Hollywood Park July 4 after a disappointing seventh in the Grade 2 Californian June 1. Blueskiesnrainbows should set the pace and hopes to get back to the form that saw him win the Swaps last year. He enters in just so-so form.
Golden Itiz - has 18 career starts for trainer Ronald Ellis with six wins and five third place finishes. This year he has six starts with two wins and three thirds. He enters the Cougar II having won two straight Allowance Optional Claiming races but hasn't done better than a seventh in his last four graded stakes races. He did win the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap in June 2010 for his best career result by far. He beat Rousing Sermon twice this summer at Hollywood Park but seems a tad out of his league in the Cougar II.
Rousing Sermon - was deemed a contender at the beginning of 2012 but has not shown the expected form so far. He had an eighth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby to follow a decent third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and has been just OK since. He has raced five straight Allowance Optional Claiming races and has two straight thirds coming into the Cougar II. Before that was a second and a win at Santa Anita April 14. The Jerry Hollendorfer colt has just 3 wins in 19 career starts and enters the Cougar II in OK form.
Lime Rickey - is a veteran of 41 career starts but raced in graded stakes company for the first time since 2009 and finished fourth on April 21 in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano. She was an OK second in the minor Round Table Stakes behind Dhaamer at Hollywood Park May 12 and most recently finished fifth in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Memorial at Hollywood Park June 8. He has placed in nine of his last 12 starts however and has three wins over that span - the last being a Claiming at Del Mar in September.
Mr T Bird - Mike Puype trained gelding races in stakes company for the first time Friday after eight career starts yielded just two wins and a third place finish. Last time out was an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Hollywood Park June 29 after an eighth and a fourth respectively in similar races this year at Santa Anita. His other win came January 17 in a Maiden Claiming at Santa Anita.
Grandstand - has 17 career starts with two wins, three seconds and three third place finishes but in 2013 he has two wins and two third in five starts. Last time out was his only off-the-board finish of the year - a seventh in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Hollywood park June 13 after an Allowance score at Keeneland in April. His other win this year was a MSW at Tampa Bay in March. Friday marks Grandstand's stakes debut.
Majestic Moment - John Sadler trained colt races in stakes company for the first time Friday after 11 Allowance Optional Claiming and MSW starts produced just two wins and a third place finish. His last win came February 22 - an Allowance Optional Claiming at Santa Anita but in three starts since has a pair of fourths and a sixth place finish.
Race 7 on Del Mar's Friday card with a Post Time of 7:00 PM.
||Mr T Bird