For the first time since before Shanghai Bobby even
entered his first Kentucky Derby qualification race, he has now fallen from the
ranking of overall point’s leader. Although it took our new leader an extra
race to pull ahead by four points, the leader board has shifted and Goldencents
is our new leader.
His win in the G3 Sham Stakes brings the Doug O’Neill
trained colt to 24 points, 10 of which were earned today at Santa Anita Park.
Coming into to the first qualification race of the 2013 Kentucky Derby Prep
season Goldencents was already well regarded after he ended the 2012 season
ranked in second behind the same horse that he was unable to beat in their first qualification race. But, after finishing second to Shanghai Bobby
in the G1 Champagne Stakes he came back to remedy that defeat with a big win in
the G3 Delta Downs Jackpot.
But, while his road to the first Saturday in May
got off to another good start in 2013, my response to ranking him alongside his
points standing is: not so fast. It’s not that I didn’t like what I saw today.
In fact, Goldencents accomplished what he and his connections set out to do.
However, as it is in the early prep season I just didn’t see a powerful win
that made me reconsider where he stands on the list of viable Kentucky Derby
Breaking from the second post in this six horse field, jockey Kevin Krigger got him away clean and tucked him in nicely in 2nd position behind the Bob Baffert trained Manando. Racing just to his outside and trailing by no more than a 1 ½ length Goldencents wasn’t struggling but he along with the majority of the field appeared to be racing a little tight behind modest fractions (23.00 and 46.31). Clipping through the next split in 1:10.06 is where things began to finally heat up and the Sham Stakes became a three horse race down the stretch.
Manando made a strong turn for home in his
attempt to wire the field but he also found himself in the middle of it.
Goldencents remained to his outside but the other Bob Baffert horse, Den’s Legacy, was charging gamely to his inside. Big races are often won in the final
furlong and that is the best way to sum up the Sham Stakes win for Goldencents.
He and Krigger dug in and got by Manando at that marker before holding off a
final surge by Den’s Legacy along the rail. The final time in the 1 Mile Sham
Stakes raced over a Fast Santa Anita Dirt track was 1:36.50.
The win makes it the first Sham Stakes victory for
Doug O’Neill and Kevin Krigger as well as the owners, W. C. Racing, Kenney,
Dave and RAP Racing. Doug O’Neill would not confirm the next race for
Goldencents but he did give us a clue. He estimated that we would see Goldencents
again in about 1 month. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe he was referring
to the G2 Robert B. Lewis stakes on February 2. If so, it will put Doug O’Neill
in a nice position to score back to back victories as this stakes is where last
year’s Kentucky Derby champion I’ll Have Another began his 3-yr-old racing
Again, I give Goldencents and his team a lot of
credit for keeping a good thing going but I’m still going to need to see more his
next time out. The biggest concern that most may have will be the distance
factor. That can be a valid point mainly because the final fractions came back
slower than the opening splits. If anyone in the field looked primed to be
training towards the Kentucky Derby distance most people would vote for Den’s
His second place finish in the Sham is a nice
follow up to his 3rd place finish in the CashCall Futurity. That was
the first Kentucky Derby qualifier race in which he was able to score points so
when you add the points he notched today it brings his overall total to 6. By Medaglia
d'Oro - Sunshine Song, Den’s Legacy is a horse that I’m going to keep my eye
on. Right now he seems to have the look of a horse that may be slowly finding
his form after staggering through the early part of his 2-yr-old season. Having
a place in Bob Baffert’s barn is a big time advantage as well but I won’t be
able to make any confident predictions on his derby chances until I see him again
in the 3-yr-old season.
As for this stable mate Manando, I'm not so sure we will see him again on the Derby trail. Of course Bob Baffert may have other ideas but the distance factor is a very big question for this colt by Bluegrass Cat right now. This was his first attempt at both Graded Stakes and a Kentucky Derby qualifier so maybe a decision on his chances will need to be made after one more attempt on this level. Does anyone else think that we'll see him again?
Either way it can still be tough to come out of the gate with an impressive performance this early in the season. So, when you consider the style of racing in this year's Sham (tight) it allows Manando and anyone else in the field to return to their barns and loosen up through training before they race again.
And that’s where the beauty of the 3-yr-old
season begins. We may be in the same calendar year now but that only answers
very few questions. There’s still so much time to correct any flaws, train
through the distance limitations and to keep discovering new things. What that does is make the road to the Kentucky Derby even more intriguing now that we
begin again in 2013. I might not be sold on Goldencents yet but that can
quickly change in one single race. But will it?