Doug O'Neill reports that dual Grade 3 winner Goldencents came out of his fourth-place finish in last Saturday's Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita in good order and it's on to the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 6 and a rematch with San Felipe runner-up Flashback and new jockey Garrett Gomez.
"He came out great," O'Neill said of Goldencents, who weakened late to be beaten in fourth by 2 1/4 lengths in the San Felipe. "He looked fantastic. I've got to do a little better job training him. I will, and we'll be tough in the Santa Anita Derby."
Goldencents entered the San Felipe off two straight Grade 3 wins in the Delta Downs Jackpot going 1 1/16 miles and Sham at one mile. The Into Mischief colt will be stretching out to nine furlongs for the first time in the Santa Anita Derby.
One rival Goldencents might not have to worry about in the Santa Anita Derby is Tiz a Minister, who rallied from another county under Gomez to finish third by a length in the San Felipe. The dark bay son of Ministers Wild Cat is being considered for the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass over Keeneland's Polytrack on April 13.
"He came out of the San Felipe fine, and I haven't worked him back yet," trainer Paul Aguirre said of his late-running Cal-bred. "I don't have a jockey for him right now if we run in the Santa Anita Derby, but if we go in the Blue Grass, Gomez would be available to ride him back."
A less-accomplished O'Neill three-year-old, Mudflats, who worked six furlongs Thursday in a bullet 1:12 4/5 on Santa Anita's fast main track, is ticketed for the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby on March 24. The Tapit gelding was fifth by 2 1/2 lengths when last seen making his California debut in the Grade 2 San Vicente on February 17.
"He worked great," O'Neill said. "We were just looking for a good stretch and a good finish and he did just that, so we're excited. He came out of it good and he flies out next week to New Mexico with a couple other horses."
Edwin Maldonado rides Mudflats in the Sunland Park Derby.