GOLDENCENTS GETS HARD-EARNED VICTORY IN GRADE III SHAM STAKES, O’NEILL TRAINEE HAS SIGHTS SET ON GRADE I SANTA ANITA DERBY ON APRIL 6TH

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 5, 2013)—From the outset, Saturday’s Grade III, one-mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita had the look and feel of a major derby prep, as 2-5 favorite Goldencents and Kevin Krigger were bumped leaving the gate, steadied off heels going into the Club House turn and were fully extended to win the year’s first prep for the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 6 by 1 ½ lengths in 1:36.50.

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.”

Idle since winning the Grade III, $1 million Delta Jackpot in Louisiana on Nov. 17, Goldencents paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10.

“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 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.”

With Manando carving out splits of 23.00, 46.31, 1:10.06 and 1:22.84, Goldencents steadied off Manando’s heels into the Club House turn while racing a length behind the pacesetter and just off the rail. Krigger was able to angle out going to the far turn and got on terms with Manando leaving the quarter pole and was fully extended through the lane.

Owned by University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino’s RAP Racing, Glenn Sorgenstein and Joshua Kaplan’s W.C. Racing and David Kenney, Goldencents picked up $60,000 for his Sham win, which hiked his bankroll to $782,000 from a record of 4-3-1-0.

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.

Den’s Legacy, third in the Grade I CashCall Futurity on Dec. 15, was tenacious through the stretch, besting his stablemate Manando by a half-length. Den’s Legacy paid $2.60 and $2.10.

Mandando, fresh of a maiden special weight win at 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 13, paid $2.20.

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.

COIL TAKES GRADE II SAN PASQUAL, SON OF POINT GIVEN GOES TO STUD

Off as the 9-5 favorite in a field of six, Coil, with Martin Garcia aboard, gradually wore down pacesetter Ultimate Eagle and Martin Pedroza to win Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes by a head, getting the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.52, in his final start prior to stud duty in California.

As expected, Ultimate Eagle was sent from the gate and set fractions of 23.56, 47.64, 1:11.28 and enjoyed a half-length advantage on Coil at the top of the stretch. The pair dueled to the sixteenth pole, with the mile recorded in 1:35.84.

“I had a really good horse inside of me (Ultimate Eagle) and I just tried to follow the way he was going,” said Garcia. “When I asked him to go, he just responded, and that was it. He has been a really good horse for a long time.”

Although the San Pasqual is an important steppingstone to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 2, it was widely reported prior to the race that the 5-year-old son of Point Given was headed to a career at stud in California this winter.

“That was it,” said winning trainer Bob Baffert. “He’ll be retired to stud. He’ll go to Magali Farm. He’s had some issues…I’d have to run him sparingly. I think he deserves to be retired. He’s good. He’s very healthy right now, but it’s time to send him to stud.”

Owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, Coil paid $5.60, $3.00 and $2.20. With the winner’s share of $90,000, Coil ran his earnings to $1,154,360 from a record of 14-7-2-3.

Ultimate Eagle, the narrow second choice at 2-1, showed his customary heart but couldn’t hold off the winner as he finished 6 ¼ lengths clear of third-place finisher John Scott and Victor Espinoza.

“The race went very well but it’s hard when you have three Bafferts; one chasing you and the other two setting it up for the other one,” said Pedroza. “He ran very well though. (His) second race off the layoff, I couldn’t ask for more. He feels really good, he can only get better.”

Ultimate Eagle came off a second-place run in the Grade II Citation Handicap on Nov. 23, his first start since running a dull 10th as the favorite in last year’s Big ’Cap. Ultimate Eagle paid $3.80 and $2.80.

John Scott, the third choice at 7-2, never threatened the top two and paid $2.80 to show while finishing a head in front of Tres Borrachos and Garrett Gomez.

Legendary retired Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda presented the San Pasqual trophy.

First post time at Santa Anita on Sunday is 12:30 p.m. Mizdirection, owned in-part by sports talk superstar Jim Rome, is the 6-5 favorite in the Grade II Monrovia Stakes, which goes as the eighth on a nine-race card.

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