Richard's Kid came charging up the rail to overtake Crown of Thorns and win by a half-length. Dakota Phone rallied for third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Crown of Thorns. The previously unbeaten Twirling Candy, sent off the 3-5 favorite in his first start against older horses, faded late to finish fourth, a half-length behind Dakota Phone.
Richard's Kid ($18.60) completed 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track in 1:49.18. He will join his Bob Baffert-trained stablemate, Lookin At Lucky, as challengers against Zenyatta in the Classic on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.
The victory was the ninth in 27 starts for Richard's Kid, who is owned by Zabeel Racing International Corp. He finished sixth in last year's Classic at Santa Anita.
Alonso Quinonez rode Richard's Kid, inheriting a mount that Mike Smith gave up. Smith had ridden Richard's Kid to victory in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar five weeks earlier, but Smith took over on Twirling Candy because Joel Rosario, who had ridden Twirling Candy in three of his prior four starts, chose to go to Philadelphia on Saturday to ride Blind Luck in the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing.
Twirling Candy was third going into the first turn, as Informed and Crown of Thorns led, but by the time the field turned into the backstretch, he was pulling aggressively with Smith and refused to cooperate. He surged to the lead early on the backstretch, but ran out of gas in the final furlong.
Smith came back with his hands red, looking as though they had rope burns, from trying to restrain Twirling Candy. He said he wanted to avoid a repeat of Twirling Candy bolting in the Del Mar Derby.
"I didn't want to let him go. I was afraid he was going to get out,"
said Smith, who earlier in the day rode Zenyatta to her thrilling victory in the Lady's Secret.