Flashback had little difficulty when making his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis, dominating on the front end against three overmatched rivals, but the unbeaten colt will face a much sterner class check when he faces Goldencents in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 San Felipe at Santa Anita. Goldencents exits a pair of nice wins in the Grade 3 Sham and Grade 3 Delta Jackpot.
An eight-horse field is set for the 1 1/16-mile Lewis, which will award the top four finishers points on 50-20-10-5 scale as part of the new "Road to the Kentucky Derby" scoring system, and Flashback and Goldencents are the likely one-two choices in the betting, at much shorter odds than the remaining six contestants.
A gray son of Tapit, Flashback won at first asking on December 8, rallying from just off the pace to score going away by 3 1/2 lengths at seven furlongs, and entered his sophomore season as a well-regarded prospect for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner. The colt lived up to expectations when making his stakes bow in the February 2 Lewis, winning by an easy 6 1/4-length margin, but it looked more like a paid workout than a true indication of his ability as Flashback controlled a slow pace from the start.
His mettle figures to get tested Saturday and Flashback will likely revert to rating tactics with regular rider Julien Leparoux. He will concede three pounds to his main rival as the 123-pound topweight and breaks from post 2.
Goldcents will start to the immediate outside of Flashback with a returning Kevin Krigger. Trained by Doug O'Neill, whose I'll Have Another narrowly defeated the Baffert-trained Bodemeister in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year, Goldencents will bring a three for four mark into the San Felipe.
Following a scintillating 7 1/4-length debut win at Del Mar, Goldencents displayed nice class when shipping to Belmont Park for his lone setback, a runner-up effort behind eventual two-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 1 Champagne last October. His connections decided to skip the Breeders' Cup and the bay son of Into Mischief concluded his juvenile season on an excellent note, posting a convincing 1 3/4-length score in the Delta Jackpot.
Goldencents showed high speed in his first three outings, but he conceded the early advantage when making his 2013 bow against four rivals in the January 5 Sham. He had to work harder than expected that afternoon as the 2-5 choice, but went on to record a 1 1/2-length decision over a suspect group of rivals. The speedy colt figures to be sharper for this engagement, posting five consecutive bullet works in preparation, and Goldencents will be the one to catch if he breaks running as expected.
Stakes winner Carving is the possible third choice in the wagering. The Baffert trainee exits a troubled fourth in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby on Tapeta and figures to be running late with Rafael Bejarano up. Omega Star turned in an impressive showing when easily breaking his maiden two back and the California-bred gelding will step up to face open rivals for John Shirreffs off a decent second in the California Breeders' Champion on January 26. The fast-finishing winner of that event, Tiz a Minister, is also entered in the San Felipe.
San Pedro runner-up Hear the Ghost will make his first attempt at two turns for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, and maiden winners Kochees and Salutos Amigos complete the field.