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Breeders’ Cup Recaps: Holy Goldencents


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.

Private Zone clip-clopping around waiting on the results of the inquiry made against him in the Vosburgh Invitational (I). He would later be announced as the winner.

Private Zone clip-clopping around waiting on the results of the inquiry made against him in the Vosburgh Invitational (I). He would later be announced as the winner.

Derby Dozen #6: Goldencents


(Into Mischief x Goldenworks, by Banker’s Gold)

  • Trainer: Doug O’Neill (I’ll Have Another, Lava Man, Thor’s Echo)
  • Jockey: Kevin Krigger (This will be his first Derby ride)
  • Owned by: W.C. Racing, Kenney, Dave; and RAP Racing
  • Record: 6:4-1-0
  • Earnings: $1,250,000
  • Best speed figures: 105 Beyer, 111 Equibase

Background: Just when it looked like Team O’Neill was going to be out of the Derby picture the year after they led I’ll Have Another into that heralded winner’s circle at Churchill, the bay colt named Goldencents made a big run to score their second consecutive Santa Anita Derby (I) over favored Flashback. Regarded as a good two-year-old, Goldencents dismissed distance doubters by nailing the 9-furlong race, again offering a Cinderella story for fans this year as the curly-maned bay carries black jockey Kevin Krigger to the gate.

Prep Schedule: After knocking heads with Shanghai Bobby as a two-year-old, the talented juvenile closed out his baby year with a front-running score in the Delta Downs Jackpot (III), holding off Bern Identity to win by a clear 1 3/4 lengths. He proved best in his three-year-old debut, winning the Derby points prep the Sham Stakes (III) going a mile, tracking Manado in a tight trip where he prevailed by a game 1 1/4 lengths. He was challenged for the lead early in the San Felipe (II) next out, again at 1 1/16 miles, being effectively run off his feet by Flashback and just hung on to be 4th. Seeking revenge, Goldencents was forwardly-placed on autopilot in the Santa Anita Derby (I) at 9 furlongs, where he progressed nicely into a 1 1/4-length win over Flashback.

Pedigree: New sire Into Mischief is having a heyday with his first crop to race with Goldencents leading the fray with a G1 win and more than a million bucks in earnings. Into Mischief, a son of Florida Derby winner Harlan’s Holiday, had a short-lived career running mostly sprint type races. His half sister is a favorite for the Oaks this year: the indomitably fast Beholder who also capped off a strong Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly (I) win last year. Dam Goldenworks has some distance pedigree although her sire Banker’s Gold didn’t do much beyond 7 furlongs. Goldencents grades fair on the inbreeding scale, though has several Native Dancer references beyond the fifth generation through Raise a Native and Icecapade.

Estimated TrueNicks Rating: A++ Variant 7.37

Running Style: Near-the-pace

Pros: Sporting some excellent speed figures, Goldencents is statistically a top contender in this regard should he keep right on chugging away to get 10 furlongs.

Cons: Showing little dimension other than a need-to-be-up-front horse that has displayed trouble relaxing, Goldencents got sucked into a frenzied duel in the San Felipe (II) and has yet to encounter a truly tough field.

Final Word: Backers of Goldencents have to be those who are either still high off of I’ll Have Another’s Derby win last year or who are driven by certain angles, such as his forward placement and especially his improving Beyers which show he’s right on schedule. I will also forever vouch O’Neill’s stiff conditioning methods for his horses, which he seems to be doing again this year having Goldencents plug away 6 panels at a time at Santa Anita. I don’t personally like him for several reasons: he’s too testy when encountering trouble, he looked all-out getting the Santa Anita (I’ll Have Another ran ears forward in his tough victory), his Santa Anita win was given to him (field was a bit off, Flashback was found to be injured post-race), and I’m going to wager he stops at 9 furlongs looking at his pedigree.

That awkward moment when Goldencents becomes a G1 winner. (Photo by HRTV)

That awkward moment when Goldencents becomes a G1 winner. (Photo by HRTV)

Joining afleet-alexandra… more horse racing valentines!

Joining afleet-alexandra… more horse racing valentines!

It’s Baffert vs. O’Neill in Robert B. Lewis Stakes


***DERBY HANDICAP CONTEST Week 2 of 10! Please submit your top 3 picks IN ORDER OF FINISH through this submission form (easiest and quickest method), via Tumblr message, or email. You have until 1 hour before the scheduled post time noted below to submit or edit your picks. See the Contest Tab for details.

When I first loaded up the entry list for this race, I assumed my iPod’s wifi connection was pooping out and didn’t load everything. *Refresh*. Oh. Well this kind of sucks… WHY DO WE ONLY HAVE FOUR HORSES RUNNING? Further evidence that the Cali circuit sucks for Derby hopefuls right about now. Two horses storm in from Baffert’s barn against last year’s winning trainer Doug O’Neill, who’s hoping to score this race again with He’s Had Enough.

Weather looks picture-perfect at Santa Anita, so be ready for a fast track.

$200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (II) - 3-Year-Olds. 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Santa Anita. Post Time: Saturday, February 2 at 2:03pm PST.

[Post Position, Horse - Jockey, Impost, Trainer - Summary, Opinion in italics]

1) Little Jerry - Tyler Baze, 118 lbs, Richard Baltas - The Candy Ride [ARG] colt has not made an appearance since his 8th in the CashCall (I), where he was off slow and made no late rally which was expected of him. This will be his first dirt start with no recorded works over it. I liked Little Jerry back in the CashCall, which can probably be excused. He defeated a good colt in Curly Top in his maiden where he closed very fast over this stretch of ground and gets Baze back for this race. Should he likely decide to close in, he may take advantage of the pace if it’s fast.

2) Flashback - Julien Leparoux, 118 lbs, Bob Baffert - The Tapit star and full brother to G1 winner Zazu is apt to be favored despite just having run one winning race and will be making his first dirt start and his first route here. He stretches out a furlong and a half here after blitzing some bullets in his works on the Santa Anita dirt. Another good stalking trip and he could prevail despite his inexperience.

3) Den’s Legacy - Garrett Gomez, 120 lbs, Bob Baffert - The lone graded stakes winner of the field is this Medaglia d’Oro colt, who looks like he can do just about anything that is asked of him. He is the most experienced of the bunch, has some nice bullet moves, and totes Gomez  yet will very likely be overlooked again.

4) He’s Had Enough - Mario Gutierrez, 118 lbs, Doug O’Neill - The Tapit colt made headlines when he gave undefeated Shanghai Bobby a big scare in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, also on this track at this distance. He had a poor race last out when 5th in the CashCall (I), and after a string of longer works, looks to make his second dirt start here for points. I like O’Neill’s conditioning style and the clear break opportunity, but I’m not sure if a colt who is hit-and-miss and called lazy is going to want to compete.

Top Picks in Order:

1) Flashback

2) Den’s Legacy

3) Little Jerry

As no stranger to the equine world, I think Mr. Reddam should rethink how he names his horses… I truly believe from personal experiences that they love to live up to their name! On a serious note, this race is going to be determined by pace, and seeing what we’ve got, I don’t see anyone going much faster than :24 flat with an all-out scramble on the turn. I think Flashback has the right stuff to keep moving forward, and I’ll make it a Baffert double with Den’s Legacy coming in right behind him.

No Value Pick

What are your thoughts on Doug O'Neill? Mike Maker?

Asked by horseracingchick-deactivated201

I’m cool with O’Neill. He seems to care a lot about his horses, and he brings a light, humorous tone to the otherwise serious and traditional scene of horse racing. I like the way he conditions his horses— breezing them 6-7 furlongs instead of 4 or 5 panels— and I think he’s a great role model for others who want to strengthen the sport. I don’t think anyone else updates their fans half as much as he does. On the negative side, I do tend to question where he puts his horses; why run Know More again in an allowance when he burned out of the Delta Jackpot? Why run Basmati in a G1 sprint right after he comes back in an allowance? Not my decision, but still…

I like Maker more or less the same as O’Neill. He did some nice work on one of my favorite underdogs, Headache, as well as with a lot of the Ramsey horses. I feel bad about the way Hansen turned out for him as a three-year-old, but I think if and when he gets that next big horse he’ll put his lessons to work.

I’ll Have Another

I’ll Have Another

Obsessively providing a comprehensive and personal glance at the sport of kings through original photography, handicapping analysis, editorials, and much more.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.

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