KEVIN KRIGGER, GOLDENCENTS, WINNER: “Today was a great race – the first race back and he shows us that he’s pretty versatile. We’re all happy and pumped up about it. 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.

“From the gate, I got a little bump from the one (Den’s Legacy) on the inside, and by then Martin (Garcia) 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. He’s doing everything right. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and praying that he stays sound.”

(Was this as hard as he’s had to run?)

“When we turned for home, it felt like it was going to be a tough battle, but by the time we got about 50 yards from the eighth pole, I could feel him gathering himself up to make that huge surge. He galloped out real good. I can’t complain.”

(On riding for Doug O’Neill and his loyalty)

“I’m in a great position. My agent (Tom Knust) is doing a great job getting me on horses. Doug is a great guy--I thank God I get to meet guys like him. I’ve seen many riders go through Doug’s barn, and I haven’t seen one guy who he hasn’t given a chance. I’m appreciative of that.”

(Excited to be on a horse of this caliber?)

“It’s exciting. I’ve been waiting for a horse like this for a long time, and I’ve found him. I’m glad to be on Goldencents. He’s got speed, and today he showed us he’s got tactical speed. We can do whatever we want with him, and that’s a big key to horse racing.”

GARRETT GOMEZ, DEN’S LEGACY, SECOND: “I wanted him a little bit closer, so I put him closer. He traveled well enough but he just didn’t have the same punch as he normally does. He did a lot more work early on today, though.

“He ran well, he still only got beat a length and a half, so he still ran a good race; he runs no matter where you put him.”


DOUG O’NEILL, GOLDENCENTS, WINNER: “As the races go on and the fields get bigger, you got to have versatility, and he showed it today. Kevin is a great rider and he’s as one with the horse. It’s beautiful.

“It’s a great game regardless of what class of horse you have,” when asked to compare having a favorite this year as opposed to I’ll Have Another, who was a longshot. “Having a (Kentucky) Derby contender is such an exciting thing. This horse is such a brilliant athlete and so amazing mentally. He’s just getting better every day.

“The whole crew, like I said earlier, has a little swag after I’ll Have Another, so we’re just enjoying the whole ride. Kevin (Krigger) probably worked Goldencents the fifth work of his life and he came back and said, ‘That might be the best horse I’ve ever been on.’

“I said, ‘Kevin, why don’t you call the owners and plant the seed with them,’ because he’s not a real big- name guy down here, and the owners fell in love with him, just like Goldencents has. The good thing about Kevin is, win, lose or draw, you know you have him for upcoming races. He’s not going to jump around. (With) some of the higher-standing guys, it’s difficult to have any continuity with a horse. Kevin’s really gotten to know this colt and he’s done a brilliant job every race.”

“We thought that with (Bob) Baffert having two (horses in the race), one closer (Den’s Legacy) and one speed horse (Manando), we figured Martin (Garcia on Manando) would really send hard, and Kevin said he could sense leaving the gate that he (Garcia) was doing that, so he wasn’t going to get caught up in a crazy pace duel.

“He let Martin use up a lot of horse to make the lead and as the waters get deeper, you’ve got to be versatile and I think Goldencents and Kevin showed their versatility today.”

Asked what race what might be next: “We’ll just huddle up (with the owners). We were very confident about this race but you just never know till it’s over. Now that it’s over, we’ll put our heads together and look at upcoming races and if he stays injury-free, we’ll get there . . . We’re all pumped up.”

NOTES: Kentucky Derby qualifying points are awarded on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the top four Sham runners. The winning owners are Glenn Sorgenstein and Joshua Kaplan of Santa Monica, who race as W.C. Racing; David Kenney of Yorba Linda; and Rick Pitino, head basketball coach at the University of Louisville, who resides in Louisville and races as RAP Racing.