This isn’t so much a “belated” post as it is one that has been allowed to fester and tenderize over the past few weeks. And yet every time I mull over what were the best Breeders’ Cup performances— as much as I disliked the running of the event this year— one horse keeps popping up:
It was one of those races that looked over from the start. I winced at not including Goldencents in a pick 4 ticket I had built up and would have won had I done so, as soon as I saw the horse in the post parade. Dammit, he looks pretty okay! As I advertised repeatedly, I was still very gung-ho about South American invader and Kelso (II) runner Brujo de Olleros, who I surmised would come roaring in off the pace in a race that was sure to be loaded with it. But as soon as those horses took off and away from the clanging metal, my eyeballs locked with the screen. Goldencents appeared to be running quickly with pistonesque strokes of his legs tapping across the Santa Anita main which he has loved much over the course of the year, but he seemed to be holding any challengers at bay. And he was doing so decisively, and the only thing that came to mind was how much he looked like Fort Larned before that horse rolled over the field to take the Stephen Foster (I) earlier in the year. Oh shit, is someone going to catch him? Will he tank out in the stretch? Just look at those fractions! The evil echo I hear all too often popped on again: Remember what you said earlier in the year when he won the Santa Anita Derby? He’s no good at 10 furlongs, but 9 maybe… a mile is his calling card. Like I did about Shackleford post-Preakness in the following year’s Met Mile, I found myself kicking my own groin.
Whether it was the lightning fast course, the 72-hour security barns, just-deceased grandsire Harlan’s Holiday looking down, or the serendipitous locomotion of Goldie’s racing heart, the Into Mischief colt took the Dirt Mile in a glorious and much deserved romp. Brujo made up ground to be 3rd, again the victim of a course too friendly to speed horses. It hurt to be so torn with the anger many fans and bettors had about the unfair bias mixed with the glee of what was an obviously very fleet horse. Weeks later, I am still beside myself with mood swings that may have cheated a few horses out of year-end honors.
This brings us up to speed for this coming Saturday’s Cigar Mile (I), where Goldencents is set to be the high-weight and will race the Filly & Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll, G1 winners Verrazano and Private Zone, and Laugh Track, who was an improving 2nd in the Sprint behind Secret Circle. It’s no secret that Aqueduct is a different animal than Santa Anita, and Goldencents will have to dance in the cold New York air after shipping 3,000 miles. With the lack of a detention barn and no holds barred on Todd Pletcher’s home turf, I have agreed with myself that if Goldie prevails again, I’ll freely give up the grudge I’ve had against him all year.