Don’t I ever learn? Has watching racing for the past forty years taught me nothing? Shouldn’t it be clear by now that in racing, anything can happen?
I’ll leave all those probing personal questions to be overanalyzed at some future time. For now, I will just tell you that Goldencents will not win the Kentucky Derby.
As one of the race favorites, there will be millions of fans who would disagree with the above statement, but I say, playing him in the top spot on the first Saturday in May is wasted money.
Sure, he has a solid record with four wins and a place in six lifetime starts. Yes, he has been running against graded stakes company since romping home in his career debut. It’s also true that his Santa Anita Derby was one of the fastest of all the Derby preps. And finally, yes, his trainer, Doug O’Neill just won this thing last year. Clearly, Goldencents is a nice horse in capable hands. So knowing all of this, how can I be so blatantly confident in my assertion that he will not win the Kentucky Derby? Here are five reasons…
1) Pedigree – While a successful first-crop sire to be sure, Into Mischief did his best running at the distance of seven furlongs, and it would be no surprise if his offspring struggled at extended distances. Unfortunately, Goldencents gets little help stamina wise from his female side, as broodmare sire, Banker’s Gold was also best in races at one-turn. Say what you will of the importance of pedigree, but when these horses turn for home and feel the burn of the longest and most physically taxing race of their young lives, I want a horse with stamina influence somewhere … anywhere in his pedigree.
2) Running Style – As one of the horses I most expect to be on the early lead, Goldencents would be trying to buck a serious trend by going wire-to-wire in the Derby. Only War Emblem has wired the field in the last 24 runnings. Taking that one step farther, War Emblem and Go for Gin are the only two winners to have been first or second, after any of the first quarter, half, or three-quarters of a mile markers in the last two dozen editions of the Kentucky Derby.
3) Toughness – Yes, Goldencents has a fine record, but in the two races where he was really pressured, the Champagne and the San Felipe, he seemed to pack up his tent a little too easily. He was well beaten by Shanghai Bobby in the former and finishing fourth in the latter. This certainly does not bode well for the stiff challenges that await him in Louisville. Only in the Santa Anita Derby did he show the ability to fight off a serious challenge, but keep in mind, Flashback exited the race injured.
4) The eyeball test – For all those banking their faith on Goldencents due to his Santa Anita Derby victory, I really did not like the look of his stride in the last 100 yards. He looked like a horse surviving the distance, rather than a horse thriving at it. The same can be said for his aforementioned losses in the Champagne and the San Felipe.
5) Santa Anita Speedway – I really can’t say that any of the three-year-olds from California will measure up this year, but what I can say for sure is that frontrunners like Goldencents had a big advantage because of the nature of the track at Santa Anita. Winning on the early pace at that track, that so favors speed, is significantly easier than doing it at Churchill Downs … not to mention all the company he is likely to have at Louisville over every demanding furlong.