Revenge is a dish best served cold. Winning California’s premier prep for the Kentucky Derby while you’re at it isn’t bad either. Goldencents, benefiting by a picture-perfect ride by jockey Kevin Krigger, gained his revenge on the horse that dueled him into the ground last time, by repelling Flashback at the top of the lane and going on to win Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby by 1 ¼ lengths.
While last month’s San Felipe Stakes turned out to be an all-out blitz for the early lead, today’s grade 1 affair had a decidedly different feel. While Flashback’s speed was held back on the rail by new pilot, Garrett Gomez, Goldencents was allowed to settle just off moderate early fractions behind pacesetter Super Ninety Nine. Tracking that one calmly for the first six furlongs, the son of Into Mischief moved to the leader on the far turn, but was soon joined by the even-money favorite, Flashback as the trio turned for home. It looked like the gray on the outside might swoop to victory, but Goldencents had other ideas.
Sent off as the 6-1 fifth choice in the field of eight, Goldencents was ready for the challenge from the outside. As Super Ninety Nine tired on the rail, Krigger urged his mount, and he quickly spurted clear of Flashback. By midstretch, the race was all by decided, and the bay colt cruised home an impressive winner. Flashback was much the best of the rest, finishing 8 1/2 lengths in front of third-place finisher Super Ninety Nine, with Tiz a Minister, Power Broker, Storm Fighter, Summer Exclusive, and Dirty Swagg completing the order of finish. The final time for the 1 1/8 miles was a solid 1:48.76.
Krigger was understandably happy about the big win. “Right here, right now, is the biggest moment of my life. It’s only going to get better, the horse, me, the team," said Krigger. "As far as this horse, I had him relaxed and that’s the key to him all the way. I wasn’t fighting him, I really wasn’t, I just kept him at his pace and kept him relaxed.”
Owned by a partnership that includes Louisville basketball coach, Rick Pitino, Goldencents was not the only winner for the well-known ball coach, as his team won a dogfight against Wichita St today. The Final Four game was going on during the running of the Santa Anita Derby.
Goldencents is trained by Doug O’Neill. O’Neill, of course, won two-thirds of the Triple Crown last year with the 2012 Santa Anita Derby winner, I’ll Have Another. That one’s attempt to complete the elusive series never had a chance, as the colt had to be retired due to an injury just days before the Belmont Stakes.
With the win, Goldencents raised his career record to 6-4-1-0, with his only out-of-the-money result coming in his last outing when fourth in the San Felipe. He's now headed to Louisville, Kentucky as one of the Derby favorites, in hopes of wearing the roses, and significantly raising his already impressive bankroll of $1.25 million. When that trip will happen has yet to be decided.
When will he ship to Kentucky? “I don’t know," said O'Neill. "We’ve got to huddle up. As soon as the alcohol wears off, we’ll figure it all out."