Monday, April 29, 2013

Derby Hopeful: Goldencents

Trainer Doug O’Neill and the young, rather unknown jockey Mario Gutierrez teamed up to win last year’s Kentucky Derby (GI) after capturing the Santa Anita Derby (GI). Approaching this year’s Run for the Roses, the scene is quite similar for O’Neill. But this year, he will place Kevin Krigger’s saddle upon the back of Goldencents. Like I’ll Have Another, Goldencents won the Santa Anita Derby. Like Gutierrez, Krigger – though more well-known than Gutierrez was – has the chance to let his name shine at the pinnacle of the sport.

Near the end of the Del Mar’s meet, which has been known to unveil future superstars, Goldencents turned in one of the most impressive maiden victories of the summer at the Southern California track. The favorite in a field that had only one experienced runner, Goldencents led from start to finish, galloping to a 7 ¼-length triumph. As if the winning margin wasn’t remarkable enough, the final time for five and one-half furlongs – 1:02.79 – was only .09 seconds off the track record.

Shipping to New York for the Champagne Stakes (GI), Goldencents set the pace of the prestigious one-mile event but was overtaken by future Eclipse Champion Two-Year-Old, Shanghai Bobby. The next month, Goldencents broke through with his first graded stakes victory in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (GIII). Serving as the pacesetter once again, the bay colt never looked back as he led the field from start to finish, winning the race by 1 ¾ lengths.

Goldencents made his three-year-old debut in the Sham Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita Park, facing just four rivals in the one-mile event. Rather than leading his opponents, Goldencents tracked the pace set by Manando prior to running all out to surpass that competitor in the stretch, winning by 1 ½ lengths.

The poorest performance of Goldencents’ career to date came in the San Felipe Stakes (GII). Although it appeared as if the colt would press the pace set by Salutos Amigos, he rushed to the front down the backstretch, entering a speed duel with Flashback. He heartily tried to stay in the competition for victory but faded in the final stages to finish fourth.

Goldencents avenged his loss next out in a more important race, the Santa Anita Derby. Sitting just off Super Ninety Nine throughout the nine-furlong contest as quick fractions were posted, Goldencents was forced to be restrained by Krigger to avoid going to the front too early. Near the end of the far turn, Goldencents surged forward as Flashback loomed on his outside, gamely digging in to hold off that rival throughout the backstretch, warding off Flashback to win by 1 ¼ lengths in a good final time of 1:48.76.

Goldencents' pedigree

Goldencents is a member of his sire’s, Into Mischief, first crop. Into Mischief was a grade one-winning juvenile, taking the mile and one-sixteenth CashCall Futurity (GI), but was kept out of the Derby due to injury and only raced three times – each start at seven furlongs – as a sophomore. Into Mischief has proven himself in the breeding shed with his first crop, as he is also the sire of the graded stakes-winning and grade one-placed Derby contender Vyjack and the multiple black-type-winning filly Sittin at the Bar.

The sire of Into Mischief, Harlan’s Holiday, won at nine furlongs on four occasions, but after triumphs in the Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes (GI), the son of the grade one-winning sprinter Harlan finished seventh in the Run for the Roses. However, he did place in several ten-furlong races, including runner-up efforts in the Dubai World Cup (GI) and Hollywood Gold Cup (GI). As a sire, Harlan’s Holiday has predominantly flourished with sprinters and milers, though he has sired the likes of Willcox Inn – winner of the American Derby (GII, 9.5F) – and Denis of Cork – runner-up in the Belmont Stakes (GI, 12F) and third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby.

Goldencents' dam, Golden Works, is sired by Banker's Gold, who won up to nine furlongs but was primarily a sire of sprinters. The colt's multiple stakes-winning granddam is a daughter of Bold Ruckus, a horse who is known for speed, although he did sire Canadian classic winner Kiridashi.

Goldencents' family is lined with sprinters, although the sire of his fourth dam is Hidden Treasure, a horse who, despite excelling as a sprinter, won several distance races, including the Breeders' Stakes - the final race of Canada's Triple Crown, contested at twelve furlongs. The distance influences become less scarce as you look more deeply into Goldencents' pedigree. Following alongside his tail female line, you will encounter the likes of Daumier - the winner of several Italian classics, including the St. Leger Italiano at a mile and three-quarters - and Triple Crown champion Count Fleet.

Goldencents will need to rely on his talent to win the Derby, as he is bred to have a distance limit of nine furlongs. He certainly has a will to win – as well as a trainer who knows how to win – and will try his hardest to fight for triumph. Distance is a question for Goldencents, but heart is not.

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