DEL MAR, Calif. -- Richard's Kid, who only joined trainer Bob Baffert's barn two months ago after a moderate career spent largely in Maryland, broke through for the biggest win of his career of Sunday, shocking a star-studded field in the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
Under jockey Mike Smith, Richard's Kid ($50.60) came roaring down the center of the track to close from 10th to first in the final quarter-mile and nail Einstein to win by a neck. Rail Trip was another three-quarters of a length farther back in third. Parading was fourth, and Colonel John, who got stopped badly on the final turn, came on again to finish fifth in the 12-horse field.
Richard's Kid completed 1 1/4 miles on Polytrack in 2:02.39. The victory was his sixth in 19 starts. His biggest previous win came in the John Campbell at Laurel earlier this year. He had finished out of the money in his only three previous tries against graded stakes company.
But Richard's Kid seems to have thrived on Del Mar's synthetic surface. In his first race on this main track, he was a narrow loser of the 1 3/8-mile Cougar II Handicap on Aug. 5. Subsequent strong works, including five furlongs in 58.80 seconds on Tuesday, gave Baffert and owner Arnold Zetcher -- who put up the money for the private purchase in July -- the confidence to give it a go.
"After the Cougar II, he sort of came to life," Baffert said. "I've always felt that if a horse is in the zone, you take a shot."
With the victory in the Pacific Classic, Richard's Kid earned a berth in the Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 7 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting through the Win and You're In program.
Tres Borrachos set the early pace while hounded by Mast Track through fractions of 23.16 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.42 seconds for a half-mile. Misremembered, Baffert's other starter, also was in close attendance, but all three front-runners were beginning to tire as the field raced around the far turn.
Einstein, four paths wide, got first jump on the main contenders. Rail Trip, the 5-2 favorite, took some time to find room, then got out. But Colonel John was buried behind tiring horses, and did not get clear until well into the stretch.
By then, Einstein had taken the lead, with Parading menacing but not gaining. Then Richard's Kid came fastest of all to claim the victory.
"I asked him when we headed for home, and he really kicked," Smith said.