This is not Doug O’Neill’s first rodeo on the Triple Crown trail.
The 44-year-old trainer went global last year when he came within
36 hours of a Triple Crown attempt only to have an 11th-hour tendon
injury to Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another
that ultimately forced his retirement.
Fast forward to March 7, 2013. O’Neill is once again poised to
start down Derby Drive in earnest this year with Goldencents, who won
the Sham Stakes on Jan. 5 and on Saturday takes on the West Coast’s
“now” 3-year-old in the undefeated Flashback, an eye-catching gray son
of Tapit who overpowered three would-be rivals in the Grade II Robert B.
Lewis Stakes on Feb. 2, romping home by 6 ¼ lengths under Julien
O’Neill is both proud of and confident in Goldencents, whose only
loss came to eventual 2012 champion male 2-year-old Shanghai Bobby in
the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park last Oct. 6.
Goldencents, a Kentucky-bred son of Into Mischief, worked six furlongs
Saturday, going in a bullet 1:11.60, breezing, for six furlongs.
“He worked really well, by himself, and they gave him a
‘breezing’ which is special,” O’Neill pointed out. “He did everything on
his own. It was very impressive.”
Unlike I’ll Have Another, who won the Lewis last year at 43-1,
the resume of Goldencents precedes him. He was favored at 8-5 when he
broke his maiden at Del Mar last Sept. 2, winning by 7 ¼ lengths under
Kevin Krigger, who has ridden him in each of his four starts, three of
Following the Champagne, Goldencents won the rich Grade III Delta
Jackpot before taking the one mile Sham by a length and a half.
O’Neill elaborated on the disparities of Goldencents and I’ll Have Another.
“I’ll Have Another never really needed to work fast,” O’Neill
said. “He had kind of different gears, where Goldencents is like a
Ferrari every day. He has that speed and stamina. I’ll Have Another was a
bit more laid back early on and then would get tough or stronger as the
work or gallop continued.”
Team O’Neill is delighted to have drawn outside of favored
Flashback in the San Felipe, getting the No. 3 post while Flashback drew
“I love it,” said Doug’s brother, Dennis. “Flashback kind of
dictates what we do. If he breaks good, we sit right off him and if he
breaks a step slow, we’re in front of him and kind of keeping him down
inside. I love the post.
“We got Goldencents to the track today before it rained, which
was great. He went really well. We’re sitting on tilt; we’re ready to
The field for the Grade II, $300,000 San Felipe at 1 1/16 miles:
Carving, 118, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; Flashback, 123, Julien Leparoux,
8-5; Goldencents, 120, Kevin Krigger,
9-5; Kochees, Jose Valdivia Jr., 118,15-1; Hear the Ghost, Corey
Nakatani, 6-1, 118; Tiz A Minister, Garrett Gomez, 12-1, 118; Salutos
Amigos, 118, Martin Garcia, 6-1; and Omega Star, 118, Joe Talamo, 8-1.