Will Doug O’Neill repeat and have a 2013 Kentucky Derby winner?


Goldencents ridden by Kevin Krigger

From the outset, Saturday’s one-mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita had the look and feel of a major Kentucky Derby prep race. Goldencents, trained by Doug O’Neill and 30 year old jockey Kevin Krigger were bumped leaving the gate but went on to win.

Trained by Doug O’Neill, Goldencents had to contend with two Bob Baffert trainees early, as Baffert’s Den’s Legacy, who drew the rail and was ridden by Garrett Gomez, came out slightly as the gates opened, and Baffert’s Manando, who broke from the outside with Martin Garcia and cut to the rail, causing Krigger to steady off heels while having to settle for second position.

“Today was a great race,” said Krigger. “From the gate, I got a little bump from the one (Den’s Legacy) on the inside, and by then Martin (Garcia, aboard Manando) had already cleared us a little bit. That made me have to ride a smart race by taking him back and putting him on the outside. He’s always been relaxed, but he was so relaxed that I could ride him confidently from behind, too.

“We had a good challenge in the stretch, but by the time we got to the eighth pole, I got him on top of his feet and just said ‘Let’s go,’ and that was it. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and praying that he stays sound.”

“We thought that with Baffert having two horses in the race, one closer (second-place finisher Den’s Legacy) and one speed horse (third-place finisher Manando), we figured Garcia would send really hard,” said Doug O’Neill. “Kevin said he could sense leaving the gate that Garcia was doing that, so he wasn’t going to get caught up in a crazy pace duel…As the waters get deeper, you’ve got to be versatile and I think Goldencents and Kevin showed their versatility today.”

Goldencents is owned by University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino’s RAP Racing, Glenn Sorgenstein and Joshua Kaplan’s W.C. Racing and David Kenney.

As was announced by Churchill Downs last year, the Sham Stakes generated Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the first four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis. The top 20 point earners will secure their individual berths in this year’s Run for the Roses on May 4.

Former riding great Laffit Pincay, Jr. presented the Sham trophy, as he won the 1973 Santa Anita Derby with the Pancho Martin trainee and went on to guide Sham to second-place finishes in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes later that spring. Laffit also won the Kentucky Derby aboard Swale.

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