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Pitino Hopes for Success On and Off Court

Goldencents with Kevin Krigger aboard wins the 2013 running of the Sham Stakes at at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on January 5, 2013.

Team O’Neill expects Goldencents to make amends in the Santa Anita Derby after a costly pace duel that resulted in a fourth-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes. The son of Into Mischief drew post five in a field of nine.

“It’s a great draw,” said Dennis O’Neill, brother of trainer Doug O’Neill who was still enjoying a spring break trip with his kids on Thursday. “He gets to load late and he couldn’t be doing any better. Hopefully, the race sets up for him.

“You wouldn’t think he’ll get caught up in the same scenario as he did in the San Felipe. The last two or three weeks he’s relaxed. We’re cautiously optimistic.”

Dennis had time Thursday morning to communicate via social media with Rick Pitino, whose Louisville Cardinals are favored to win their Final Four game against Wichita State in Atlanta Saturday afternoon, with tip-off prior to Goldencents’ start in the Santa Anita Derby.

Pitino, who races as RAP Racing, owns a small share of Goldencents but his name is big in marquee value. Other owners are Josh Kaplan, Glenn Sorgenstein and Dave Kenney.

“We were kind of texting back and forth,” Dennis said of his exchange with Pitino. “We weren’t talking basketball. I was trying to keep his mind on horses this morning. It’s an exciting time for him, I’m sure. It’s got to be. I can’t even imagine how much.

“He just talked about competitive stuff, hoping the horse runs well. I told him Goldencents is doing really, really well. It would be great to have Rick along for the ride. Saturday’s a big day for Coach, that’s for sure.”



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