DEL MAR, Calif. - Unusual Suspect pulled an upset in Wednesday's $150,000 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar, outfinishing Richard's Kid by a nose in the Polytrack race at 1 1/2 miles.
The win carried an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Marathon at 1 3/4 miles on the main track at Santa Anita on Nov. 6 through the Breeders' Cup's Win and You're In program.
But after the Cougar II Handicap, trainer Barry Abrams said he was more interested in starting Unusual Suspect in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf here Aug. 30 and the $200,000 California Cup Classic on the main track at Santa Anita on Oct. 3.
Unusual Suspect was timed in 2:31.22 in the Cougar II, his first victory since the minor Silveyville Stakes at Golden Gate Fields last December. Ridden by Alonso Quinonez, Unusual Suspect raced in eighth place in the 10-runner Cougar II field for the first mile before starting to move closer to the lead.
With a rail trip on the turn and into the stretch, Unusual Suspect wore down Richard's Kid to put his head in front at the wire. Richard's Kid finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of Church Service, the 2-1 favorite.
Jockey Corey Nakatani, who rode fourth-place finisher Gangbuster, lodged an objection against Unusual Suspect, claiming interference shortly after the start. The stewards rapidly dismissed the objection.
Unusual Suspect, 5, has won 8 of 38 starts and $729,100. Owned by Abrams, his wife, Dyan, and brother David, Unusual Suspect has had a diverse career. He won the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express at six furlongs in 2007.