Goldencents completed a sweep of Saturday's major three-year-old stakes by sons of Into Mischief with a workmanlike score in the Grade 3, $100,000 Sham at Santa Anita. Favored at 2-5 in a field of five, Goldencents caught leg-weary pacesetter Manando inside the final furlong and drew off to a 1 1/2 -length victory under Kevin Krigger.
The victory by Goldencents on Saturday came shortly after that of Vyjack, a gelded son of Into Mischief, in the Grade 2 Jerome at Aqueduct.
Goldencents rated in second, one length behind Manando, through splits of :23, :46 1/5 and 1:10. Asked for his bid approaching the quarter pole, Goldencents was still a half-length behind but gaining after seven furlongs, and went on to stop the clock in 1:36 2/5 for the one-mile contest. He paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10.
"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," Krigger said. "He galloped out real good. I can’t complain."
Den's Legacy, the 7-2 second choice, rallied up the inside late to grab runner-up honors from fellow Bob Baffert stablemate Manando by a half-length. There was a gap of 15 lengths from Manando to Dry Summer, who had 10 1/2 lengths on trailer Dirty Swagg. Greeley Awesome was scratched.
Trained by Doug O'Neill, Goldencents races for the partnership of W. C. Racing, Dave Kenney and RAP Racing. The latter is the stable of University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino.
A debut winner by 7 1/4 lengths for trainer Leandro Mora at Del Mar last September, Goldencents made his next start, his first for O'Neill, in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park on October 6. In that one-mile fixture, Goldencents finished second, five lengths behind presumptive juvenile colt champion Shanghai Bobby. Goldencents concluded his freshman campaign with a wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot on November 17. His record now stands at 4-3-1-0, $782,000, and has now earned 24 points in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" challenge.
"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," O'Neill said.
"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."
Bred in Kentucky by Rosecrest Farm and Karyn Pirrello, Goldencents brought $5,500 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall yearling before selling for $62,000 when going through the ring as the penultimate horse in this year's OBS June sale. He is out of the winning Banker's Gold mare Golden Works, who is herself a daughter of multiple stakes queen Body Works.
Farther back in Goldencents' female family one will find Canadian champion and multiple Grade 1 hero Sunny's Halo, who captured the 1983 edition of the Kentucky Derby.