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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.

Racing Beat: April 7


Wow, a ton of awesome horses were born at the tail end of March/April 1… Man o’ War, Secretariat, Drosselmeyer, Wise Dan, I’ll Have Another, Zenyatta… HANDICAPPING BIAS!

Darley acquires an interest in Animal Kingdom. Damn, next thing you know Coolmore will sprout a clue and buy one too! WAIT, THAT WAS ONLY A DREAM!

I wasn’t planning on buying a house anytime soon, nor a building, but really c’mon…

I know I’m a  bit behind the ball on boasting and it probably isn’t worth it, but while I bombed heart-picking most of the Dubai card, my random love for Planteur [IRE] wasn’t unfounded. One of the lowest Timeform ratings and the horse still got third.

The Oaks fillies are so much better than the Derby colts this year that it pains me to think none of them can enter the Derby without official points. LAME!

True story: I was yelling at my computer yesterday watching Normandy Invasion. C’MON C’MON GET SECOND GET SECOND YOU NEED AT LEAST SECOND YEEEEEEEESSSSSSS! I’ve never been so pleased for a horse to get second.

"One more jump, and I could have won the race. His gallop out was amazing." - Javier Castellano on Normandy Invasion. It’s like he read my article! YES I AGREE WITH YOU JAVI!

Orb or Verrazano for Johnny V? Is it bad I want him to pick Verrazano because if he picked Orb over the undefeated horse it would ruin Orb’s odds?

Calder’s back on! Hopefully it won’t spurt screwy results on a daily basis like Gulfstream.

I hope Code West gets an “in” for the Derby next, since he too is on the bubble. I thought he was a pretty good horse.

Blind Luck and Giant’s Causeway sitting in a tree… with Winter Memories and Street Cry [IRE]. #horselove

Realizing the other day that Funny Cide's Derby win was 10 years ago. OH MY GOD OLD.

I’m sorry but I still can’t see myself rooting for Goldencents. Never had the feels for him, he beat out Bern Identity in the Delta Jackpot (III), and his jockey’s post-San Felipe tantrum is still crisp in my memory.

Tweet o’ the Week


The 138th Preakness Stakes is coming (Video by Maryland Racing)

Joining afleet-alexandra… more horse racing valentines!

Joining afleet-alexandra… more horse racing valentines!

Racing Beat: January 27


I will dress up as Dayatthespa when I visit tracks should I get money in time! Now to find chestnut clothes…

Every winner of an Eclipse Award raced at least once in New York last year except for I’ll Have Another, who had to scratch out of the Belmont. #bestplaceforhorseracing

I wonder when Reveron's coming back… he's been breezing at Calder lately.

Before maybe last week, I hadn’t realized that Join in the Dance was dead (one of the horses who pinched Mine That Bird at the start of the Kentucky Derby).

The ICU is a depressing place with grouchy nurses. Best wishes to Ramon Dominguez on a speedy recovery and glad to hear he got out of there, at least.

I’m beginning to think I like Speightstown enough as a sire to place him alongside some of my top favorites I talk about all the time. He always has a lot of good individuals that often get better as they mature and have talent to burn.

Everyone is already talking Kauai Katie as female sprinter of the year with Groupie Doll sidelined until fall. Calm the f—k down, it’s JANUARY, people, and we all should know better than to expect that from a Pletcher horse sired by Malibu Moon. (I do think she’s amazing right now though)

New best racehorse name discovered: California-bred stallion Spinelessjellyfish.

Pete Denk felt Itsmyluckyday was a top horse, as he did with Purple Egg. I WANT THE EGG TO START BACK ALREADY!!


Joyful Victory finally figured out how to win and in a good spot— the inaugural $400k Houston Ladies’ Classic.

My new life’s mission is to buy Union Rags and then go trick-or-treating as Rick Grimes and the horse in episode 1 of The Walking Dead. If we encounter zombies though, I’m sure he’s quick enough to escape… >.>

Points system sucks: Itsmyluckyday earns the same amount of points for his Holy Bull win as the 4th place finisher of the Florida Derby and other late-in-the-season races. Okay?

Back when I lived in Miami I drove a little scooter whose top speed was 35 mph. In “cold snaps” where it was 45-50 degrees, I had to wear my big coat and double pants to bear riding that thing around with the wind chill created from moving. I can’t imagine how the riders at Aqueduct have been dealing this week! (For those living in a shoe, it’s been in the negatives this week in the northeast)

Tweet o’ the Week: Lethal Heat's sister is a cutie


Weekend Stake Tip: Derby Handicapping Tips


When I saw that it was raining in Florida, any temptation I had of entering into the Pick 4 was null. Wet grass and a sloppy going on the main can really mess with your picks when they are made with fast and firm surfaces in mind. But, at least Ron the Greek did win the Sunshine Millions Classic like I wanted. I considered Sprint winner Off the Jak a mild threat, with my second and third choices coming in right behind him. The Turf was of course off with the yielding grass, but I was glad to see Teaks North get the win as I’ve liked him in the past. As I’ve mentioned in past Weekend Stake Tips, the best horse on a yielding course is an able pacesetter; Teaks North wired this race while runner-up Doubles Partner struggled with the soft going to gain on him. The maiden claimer went to a decent horse Milwaukee Brew with most of my picks doing poorly.

I didn’t publish my Lecomte choices due to lack of time (thanks to newly-begun spring semester), but I favored the winner Oxbow, who was my #10 choice on my Derby Top Ten article, although favored Avie’s Quality got a bad trip. I also liked runner-up Golden Soul mainly because of his pedigree (by Perfect Soul [IRE], who I think combines the best of Europe and America together), and I’ll keep him on my watch list down the road. Oxbow won the 1 mile and 70 yard prep by a whopping 11 1/4 lengths in a wire-to-wire romp, looking like a top steed just like his full brother Paynter. D. Wayne Lukas is back… or is it too soon to say it? Lest we forget the long list of Lecomte winners who didn’t do a damn thing in the big Derby. The track at Fair Grounds was fast for the race, now let’s see Oxbow get some Derby points!

Heading into the Derby Handicap Contest later this week with the exciting Holy Bull Stakes (III), I want to just touch upon a few points I learned last year, which was my first year of really investigating all the prep races. It will be easier this year with the Derby points system (though not necessarily a fair process), and I hope to embellish upon a few good pointers as we continue down Derby road.

1) Don’t fall in love with anyone too early - Horses like Sky Kingdom didn’t fare too well and disappeared early on and possibly blinded me from potentially good horses.

2) History is made to be rewritten - Yes, we’ve been without a Derby winner that never ran as a two-year-old for quite some time, but as you can see, Bodemeister nearly did it and ran off with some incredible performances. I wouldn’t use the history angle ever.

3) Talent vs. experience - The two big factors in determining the ability of a three-year-old, particularly through mid-March. One matters more than the other, but be wary to not give one more importance than the other. A horse needs talent to win big races, but experience is indispensable.

4) THROW OUT THE TWO-YEAR-OLD YEAR - It doesn’t mean diddly outside of getting the horse some experience. If you were a good student in high school, does that mean you will be a good college student? Nope. Same thing applies to racehorses.

5) Losses can mean nothing - In my book, a horse needs to learn about losing, which is why I dislike undefeated horses that dodge challenging fields that would actually test them (Alpha, Gemologist). A loss can also indicate a horse’s strengths and weaknesses from a trainer’s perspective and allow for a better strategy next time. Additionally, if a horse loses because of a poor trip— by how much did he lose and how did the horse react? Did it give up in the stretch or did it try to finish fast? Look at these losing races hard.

6) Speed ability - The Derby is a long race, but the winner needs to have some potential to turn foot quickly when asked so the opponents they pass will have little to no time to react if they’re able to. I’ll Have Another had great speed he was taught to carry over a good distance in his workouts, as did many of the top finishers from last year.

7) Staying power - Now that I mentioned speed, a horse needs to also be able to stay running those extra furlongs. The addition of one furlong makes more of a difference than you think, with many horses who romped at 8 or 9 furlongs failing when stretched any further.

8) Pedigree matters - The ancestry of a horse comes to view in the stretch of the Derby. Breeders say it’s 50-50 between the sire and the dam, others say it’s 60% the mare that matters. Either way, look at both parents. At least one of them should hint at 10 furlongs— and no, I don’t think a win at 9 furlongs cuts it, it must be 10. With so many breeders concentrating on early talent and speed, I am quick to dismiss a lot of horses after a certain point with sprinter sires or who do not have bloodlines that spawn distance-getters… I’m looking at YOU, Indian Charlie.

9) Track conditions - Not all poly is created equal, and not all dirt is the same. A horse that raced in New York’s deep furrows may or may not be better equipped on a souped-up surface at Gulfstream. A horse that wins on dry, fast goings will likely struggle in mud. Even the shape of a track can matter. I’d like to discuss this further, but it’s a point that needs reminding.

10) Equipment changes - Usually noted in the entry book, these can be things like blinkers, Lasix, and the ultimate “equipment change”— the gelding of a colt. Whether or not these things actually will help the horse are up to your judgment, but they’re important to note in many cases.

The Unforgettable Races of 2012: #20-11


The sport of kings played spectator to even more thrills and surprises in 2012, with favorites and unexpected surprises all playing their roles and making the crowd roar from California to Dubai. Of course, there’s no one right answer in determining which performance was best or which horse was most compelling in their victories. It was difficult sifting through so many races, and while I’m compelled to include more, I’ll keep it to twenty unforgettable races. Because I’m more an expert on North American racing, yes there will be a bias towards American races, so do be wary of what I wound up picking. Let’s get started…

20) Game On Dude gets redemption in Californian (II) blowout - “STRAIGHT AND STRONG!” After a disappointing 12th place performance in the Dubai World Cup (I), “the Dude” shipped back home to Santa Anita to go wire-to-wire in the 9-furlong Californian. He toyed with the field from the start, and ran away on the far turn to cement an incredible 8 1/2 length victory. Watch it here

19) Alpha and Golden Ticket dead-heat in Travers (I) - A jumbled race from the betting windows, longshot Golden Ticket refused to yield to encroaching favorite Alpha in the stretch of the three-year-old classic and the two colts hit the wire together for the first time in the race’s long history. Watch it here

18) Ron the Greek catches Wise Dan in unexpected Stephen Foster (I) result - The heavy favorite in a strong field, Wise Dan looked like the winner coming to the line of the 10-furlong Churchill Downs race only to be caught by rail runner Ron the Greek. It was Wise Dan’s lone loss of the year by a short head. Watch it here

17) Fort Larned runs to the nines, upsets Breeders’ Cup Classic (I) - Down but not out, the Ian Wilkes trainee celebrated his jockey’s birthday by wiring the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, deflecting a determined Mucho Macho Man in the stretch to register an upset win. Watch it here

16) Believe You Can leads Rosie Napravnik to first Kentucky Oaks (I) - For the first time since the race started in 1875, a female jockey prevailed aboard the Larry Jones entry with a name all too fitting for making history. The lilies fell to Believe You Can in an upset performance at the Downs. Watch it here

15) Groupie Doll much the best among the best in Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (I) - There was no denying that Groupie Doll was the “lock” of the Breeders’ Cup championships. She broke smooth and slow to creep up on the pacesetters and from there it was repetitive brilliance as the four-year-old filly romped to her fifth win of the year and third G1. Watch it here

14) Bodemeister turns Arkansas Derby (I) into a runaway - He was not the favorite, but by the looks of things he should have been. The rapidly-improving stablemate of Secret Circle took his stablemate head on in the Oaklawn stretch and poured it on from there, outclassing the more experienced colts to register a a nearly 10-length romp to become the Derby favorite. Watch it here

13) Little Mike notches yet another surprise ousting top horses in Breeders’ Cup Turf (I) - The cheap little gelding gave a big performance in yet another world class race, funneling through the inside rail from off-the-pace to upset some of the world’s best grass horses when he appeared to be off his game. Watch it here

12) I’ll Have Another catches Bodemeister once more in Preakness (I) - The Derby winner still had something to prove in the shorter, tighter second leg of the Triple Crown but replicated a similar sort of brilliance as he did in Kentucky. With Bodemeister jetting off to a widening lead in the stretch, I’ll Have Another caught his rival again in the waning moments of the race to stay alive for the Triple Crown. Watch it here

11) Royal Delta squishes top field, shows new front-running dimension in her defense of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (I) - The toughest race in the championships, returning champion Royal Delta made it look too easy to be real as she set her sights on the lead and held it down to discourage a field full of top G1-winning fillies in another brilliant performance. Watch it here

Stay tuned for races #10-1!

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.

You Comment, I Respond


Early Top 10 for Kentucky Derby 139

horseracingchick replied: “I’m glad I’m not the only one with Purple Egg toward the top of her list! He’s a serious talent, yet I always feel silly for bragging on a horse who has ran no further than 6 furlongs. Good list you compiled. It’s early, but I like your thoughts.”

Thanks! Like I mentioned, I have no concrete favorite heading into the Triple Crown trail. It’s just too early and I don’t think we’ve seen beyond the tip of the iceberg. I just know Bob Baffert has more than what he has shown us, and neither I’ll Have Another nor Bodemeister were worth mentioning at this time last year. I placed Purple Egg up high because he has the right moves and mindset to continue improving. His connections are obviously not in a rush to get him into the gate, which speaks volumes to me. I think he’ll go two turns no problem, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

maddiejacksontw replied: “How’d you leave S. Bobby?”

He’s probably one of the last horses I would consider as a good Derby horse for reasons: Great dislike for pedigree (I liked Harlan’s Holiday when he was racing, but he has very few good performers that last beyond the age of 2. His dam is by Orientate, who is a Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner. Eh!), great dislike for trainer (Todd Pletcher has messed things up for how many champion runners right before how many Derbies/Breeders’ Cups? If the race was in New York it would be a different story as well), and he looked like he was all-out to beat an improving colt in He’s Had Enough in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles. Many horses can do 9 furlongs, but will kick the bucket when asked to go 10. I think Bobby is a miler… probably a good miler if he is properly maintained… but he’s no Derby winner.

Looking Back and Looking Forward to 2013

exactagirl replied: “Congrats on your achievements; well done! And I KNOW you’ll exceed the goals you’ve set for yourself in the coming year. You’re just that kinda girl”

Thank you and thank you again! I hope to ace most of these goals, if not I’ll be pretty down-in-the-dumps!

horseracingchick replied: “Well done on maintaining one of the best racing blogs out there. I look forward to another great year in 2013! Keep up the great work.”

Thank you very much!

I’ll Have Another: Charging Toward History

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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