Richard’s Kid, two-time winner of the TVG Pacific Classic, was sold privately Saturday to a five-party group and shifted from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert to that of Doug O’Neill. The selling price was undisclosed for the 7-year-old horse by Lemon Drop Kid, a winner of 11 races and more than $1.9-million.
The new ownership group is led by Paul Sr., Paul Jr., and Christopher Boghossian’s Triple B Farms and also consists of Mark Verge of Westside Rentals, Dave Kenny, Steve Keh and Danny Kramer.
Richard’s Kid had made his last 13 starts in the silks of Zabeel Racing International Corp, the nom de course of Sheikh Rashid al Maktoum, the eldest son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the owner and founder of racing giants Darley and Godolphin and the ruler of Dubai.
O’Neill began a 40-day suspension Sunday under a trainer responsibility regulation concerning a horse he ran at Del Mar in 2010. Thus, his 10-year assistant, Leandro Mora, will take charge of Richard’s Kid and the entire O’Neill stable until his return during the Santa Anita fall meeting.
Mora directed the arrival of the horse to the O’Neill barn at 7 p.m. Saturday evening.
“The plan,” said the 53-year-old Mora, “is to run him in the Pacific Classic, then look at our options concerning the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll have to see what happens with possibilities and there could be several ways to go with this horse. Then, if we can keep him sound and happy, we’d look at running in the Dubai World Cup.”
Richard’s Kid, a Maryland-bred, made five starts in Dubai in 2011 and 2012, including an 11th-place finish in the 2011 World Cup, a race that – with its $10-million purse – is the richest in the world. The stretchrunner did not distinguish himself in any of his Dubai outings, including a seventh-place finish in the 2010 Dubai World Cup.
“He was in different hands over there,” noted Mora Saturday evening. “We think he’ll respond well to the O’Neill program. He’s going to start on it tomorrow.”
Richard’s Kid won the 2009 Pacific Classic racing in the colors of Arnold Zetcher. His repeat in the mile and a quarter headliner in 2010 came for Zabeel Racing. Baffert was his trainer on both occasions and he was ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith each time. Rafael Bejarano, currently the leading rider at Del Mar, has ridden the horse in his three most recent starts since he returned from Dubai this spring, registering two stakes wins and a second in the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup.
Richard’s Kid was placed in Stall 1 at the O’Neill barn, the same stall that held the stable’s $5.2-million stakes star and 2006 Pacific Classic winner Lava Man.
One of his new owners, Dave Kenny, was on hand to greet the dark-coated horse on arrival.
“We’re really excited,” Kenny noted. “You don’t get many chances like this in this game. We think he’s got a lot of upside and we’re glad we were able to pull this off. We think he has several major stakes opportunities in front of him, then some real potential as a stud. There already have been some offers in that regard, so we’re feeling pretty good about this whole move.”
A source close to the arrangements behind the private deal indicated that the Boghossian group had outbid Australian interests in the purchase of the horse. The final price, the source indicated, was most likely a low seven-figure number.
Mora, who will be down as trainer of record when Richard’s Kid runs in next Sunday’s TVG Pacific Classic, indicated that the horse will be galloped up to the race with “perhaps a blow-out down the lane the day before he runs. We do that with some horses.”
Richard’s Kid was to be one of three likely starters for trainer Baffert in the 22nd TVG Pacific Classic. The conditioner now is likely to saddle two in Game On Dude and Jaycito. Game On Dude, who appears to be the likely favorite for the Classic, beat Richard’s Kid by a length and a half in the Hollywood Gold Cup July 7.
DOWN TO TWO FOR CLASSIC, BAFFERT ‘MOVES ON’
Bob Baffert’s Pacific Classic contingent was diminished by one with the sale of Richard’s Kid, but it was back to business as usual Sunday morning for the Hall of Fame trainer.
Baffert nominated four horses to the TVG Pacific Classic -- Game On Dude, Richard’s Kid, Jaycito and Coil – with the focus on the first three for the Classic. Coil’s nomination, however, was as a contingency plan for unforeseen events leading up to the race.
The sale of two-time Classic winner Richard’s Kid was unforeseen, Baffert said, but not a development that changes plans to run Coil in the Grade II $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes on Pacific Classic Day.
“I’m down to two,” Baffert said of his Pacific Classic prospects.
Chantal Sutherland will ride Game On Dude, whom she has guided to victories in the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap and 2012 Hollywood Gold Cup. The mount on Jaycito was undetermined Sunday morning pending discussions involving Baffert and Joe Ferrer, the agent for jockey Rafael Bejarano, and the new connections for Richard’s Kid. The meet’s leading rider, Bejarano, who rides regularly for Baffert, has been aboard Richard’s Kid in three 2012 starts since the seven-year-old horse’s return from Dubai.
Possibilities for Bejarano include retaining the mount on Richard’s Kid or riding Jaycito for Baffert. If Bejarano opts for the former, Baffert said Victor Espinoza would ride Jaycito.
Of the sale of Richard’s Kid, Baffert said he was surprised and somewhat disappointed.
“It was handled very unprofessionally. But, it happens, so move on.”
KETTLE CORN WORKS WELL; CLASSIC REMAINS POSSIBILITY
San Diego Handicap third-place finisher Kettle Corn worked 7 furlongs in 1:24.60 under exercise rider Brian Pena and trainer John Sadler said the Pacific Classic remains a possibility for the 5-year-old son of Candy Ride.
“It was a good work and it’s all part of the process (for determining a next start),” Sadler said.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club clockers had Kettle Corn in interim splits of :24.60, :49.40, and 1:02.20, meaning a final quarter in :22.80 seconds.
Sadler also reported that Lady of Shamrock came out of her victory in Saturday’s Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Oaks well and would start next in either the Rodeo Drive at Santa Anita or Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland with the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf the ultimate goal.
DEL MAR A HOMECOMING FOR WHERE’S STERLING TRAINER
Luis Ramirez traveled from Florida on Saturday and was at Barn I early Sunday morning at the stall of Where’s Sterling, the 5-year-old Pacific Classic candidate he trains for Frank Calabrese.
The surroundings for Ramirez, 35 and a racetrack worker since 1995, are not unfamiliar.
“I started at this track,” Ramirez said. “My dad worked for Clifford Sise and I came here and started working for Jenine Sahadi. Then when Nick Canani started training I went with him and I was his assistant for 12 years.”
Where’s Sterling is one of 19 horses Calabrese transferred from Canani to Ramirez in April.
Pacific Classic Day could be a Ramirez family reunion of sorts. His father, Francisco, and brother, Francisco, Jr., work for Dan Hendricks. His mother and extended family from Los Angeles may also be in attendance.
“Coming back here, I’ve got good memories,” Ramirez said.
JOCKEY NOTES AND UPDATES
The victory aboard Lady of Shamrock in Saturday’s Del Mar Oaks on Saturday by Mike Smith was his second stakes win of the meeting, second in the Oaks and 36th at Del Mar for the Hall of Fame rider. The sale of Richard’s Kid later in the day may have triggered fans’ thoughts of Smith attempting to win a third Pacific Classic aboard the horse, but Smith has commitments to ride Atigun in the Travers Stakes next Saturday at Saratoga and Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign a week from today, Pacific Classic Day.
Rafael Bejarano, Victor Espinoza and Kevin Krigger all notched two wins on Saturday. As a result, Bejarano opened his lead over Garrett Gomez (one win Saturday) atop the jockey standings to 38-28. Espinoza, a three-time Del Mar riding champion, moved up to seventh in the standings with 11 wins while Krigger is tied for ninth with Martin Pedroza at seven wins each.
TRAINER NOTES, UPDATES
Doug O’Neill had three winners, including Cook Inlet ($35.80) in the nightcap on Saturday to set his victory total at 18 before departing on a 40-day suspension.
O’Neill tops the standings with three more than Peter Miller and six more than Bob Baffert. Miller and Baffert will have 13 more racing days, however, to reach or surpass O’Neill’s static total.
Miller and Baffert were both blanked with a combined eight starters on Saturday Miller has five entered today and Baffert three.
CLOSERS – Pacific Classic candidate Dullahan was en route from Kentucky this morning and expected to arrive at Barn P and a stall amidst the Tom Proctor trainees at 1 p.m. …Notable works on Sunday: California Flag, 4 furlongs :47.00; Jeranimo 4 furlongs :48.00; Nonios, 4 furlongs, :47.40; Slim Shadey, 4 furlongs :50.20; Contested 6 furlongs, 1:09.40; Dhaamer, 6 furlongs, 1:13.60; Fed Biz, 6 furlongs, 1:10:00; Kettle Corn, 7 furlongs, 1:24.60…Ship And Win bonus-eligible horses entered on today’s card include: Frenzo (4th, Troy Taylor trainer), Tullos (9th, George Papaprodromou).