Las Vegas, NV - Del Mar Race Track in Southern California will be the scene of the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap on Friday, July 24. Horses three years old and upward will be featured as they go 1 1/2 miles on Del Mar's dirt track searching for the winner's share of the $100,000 purse.
Seven older entries have been confirmed for the Cougar II - race 6 on Del Mar's Friday card. Post time is 6:30 PM. Here is a peek into the past performances of all seven combatants for this Grade 3 stakes.
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2015 Cougar II Handicap Race Favorite Entries
Sky Kingdom - defending runner-up in this race (he also finished second in 2013) has just two starts in 2015 - a third last time out in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational June 6 followed a win in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Stakes in March - a race that he has won two of the last years. He ended 2014 with a fourth, 16 1/4 lengths back in the Grade 2 Las Vegas Marathon, a seventh in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes and a fourth in the minor Los Alamitos Mile September 6 but has looked better this year. He now has 20 career starts with six wins, two seconds and three third place finishes. Sky Kingdom looks to keep his good fortune in this race going Friday as it switches to his more preferred dirt surface- from post 3 with Martin Garcia aboard.
Cat Burglar - will be after his first stakes score Friday having posted three wins, three seconds and three third place finishes in 11 career starts. Last time out was a somewhat disappointing fifth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs June 13 after a respectable third in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special in May, a second in an Allowance Optional Claiming two weeks earlier and nearly a year away from the track. Before his layoff were two straight third place finishes in graded stakes company. Cat Burglar has been competitive virtually every time out and could reasonably get her first stakes win. Victor Espinoza gets the call from gate 2.
Cougar II Handicap 2015 | Remaining Contenders
Bailoutbobby - Doug O'Neill pupil finished fourth in this race last year and has 30 career starts with five wins, three seconds and six third place finishes. He arrives off a disappointing eighth in the Grade 2 Californian at Santa Anita May 30 after he placed in his previous three starts - a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming May 8, a second in a similar race in April and career best effort - a good second behind Sky Kingdom in March in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Stakes. Bailoutbobby looks for his first stakes score Saturday and for a bounce back effort Friday when he leaves from gate 4 with Flavien Prat in the reins.
Big John B - won six of 11 starts last year with a third place finish in there - four straight victories last summer including the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap August 23, an Allowance Optional Claiming by 7 1/4 lengths, a Starter Handicap June 29 and a Claiming score in May. Last time out he returned to the winner's circle in a Starter Handicap at Santa Anita June 28 which followed two disappointing results - an eighth in the Grade 3 Last Tycoon Stakes and a ninth place finish in the Breeders' Cup Turf. Big John B has 30 career starts with 11 wins, five seconds and four third place finishes and hopes to rediscover the form he displayed last summer on a surface he has yet to record victory on. Rafael Bejarano has the mount from post 5.
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Lideris - made his North American debut June 28, 2014 trainer Peter Miller and finished fifth in last year's Gold Cup at Santa Anita and has been disappointing since - a sixth in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes followed a ninth in the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup way back in September and a seventh in last year's Cougar II Handicap in July. Last time out was another sixth in the Grade 1 Gold Cup June 27- that makes five North American starts and five off-the-board finishes. He had a couple of good wins in Peru - a Group 1 and a Group 2 but has yet to show much on North American soil. Hopes are that he can finally get on track Saturday from the rail with Joe Talamo rides.
Solid Wager - Peter Miller trained multiple stakes placed gelding will race in graded stakes company for the first time Friday. He has two wins and two third place finishes in eight starts this year - the best result being a third in the minor Tiznow Stakes at Santa Anita in May. He enters off a fifth in the minor Bertrando Stakes at Los Alamitos three weeks ago after a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming in June. Solid Wager looks for his first win since February and for his first stakes win when he leaves from the outside post 7 with Tyler Baze guiding him.
Point Piper - Jerry Hollendorfer trainee will make his stakes debut Friday having posted three wins, three seconds and two third place finishes in 13 career starts. He enters having placed in three straight Allowance races at Lone Star - a win last time out May 25 and a pair of third place finishes. Point Piper arrives in OK form but faces a tough task when he leaves from gate 6 with Mike Smith aboard.