01/06/2015 1:12PM

2014 Eclipse Awards: Goldencents

Debbie Roma

He would not quit.

As the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile unfolded at Santa Anita on Oct. 31, the most optimistic supporter of Goldencents had to doubt whether the 4-year-old colt could win.

Goldencents dueled with Vicar’s in Trouble through rapid fractions of 22.06 seconds for a quarter-mile and 44.80 seconds for a half-mile. At the end of the backstretch, those two were eight lengths clear of their seven pursuers. It seemed that one of the closers would run along late and take command.

On the turn, the quick pace took its toll on Vicar’s in Trouble, who faded from contention.

Goldencents kept going.

He did not stop until he walked into the winner’s circle, having won the race for the second consecutive year. The victory in the BC Dirt Mile was the final start of a season in which Goldencents was first or second in five graded stakes nationwide. For his campaign, Goldencents is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the outstanding sprinter of 2014.

Goldencents, by Into Mischief, raced for Glenn Sorgenstein and Josh Kaplan in 2014 and was trained by Doug O’Neill and Leandro Mora. After a 2013 campaign that included wins in the Santa Anita Derby and BC Dirt Mile, there were high expectations for Goldencents in 2014. They were largely met.

Goldencents did not make his 2014 debut until the $1.25 million Metropolitan Mile Handicap at Belmont Park on June 7. A prep race at Santa Anita did not fill in advance of that Grade 1 race, leading O’Neill to give Goldencents a strong workout between races in early May.

In the Met Mile, Goldencents ran a winning race only to finish second by a length to Palace Malice. Goldencents led by a length with a furlong remaining but could not sustain the advantage.

The Del Mar summer season saw mixed results for Goldencents. In late July, Goldencents was the 7-10 favorite to win the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes over six furlongs. After bumping with a rival at the start, Goldencents closed from fifth in a field of seven but finished second behind Big Macher, losing by a half-length.

The defeat was spectacularly reversed in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes over seven furlongs Aug. 24.  Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Goldencents bowled along in front and was never seriously challenged. He led by a length on the backstretch and by four lengths in the stretch, winning by 4 1/4 lengths over Fed Biz.

At that point, there were discussions about trying the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in October, but Goldencents was kept in Southern California for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship over six furlongs Oct. 4. The 4-5 favorite, Goldencents led by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go and looked to have the race won before he was caught at the wire by the Hong Kong invader Rich Tapestry. The margin was a nose.
After that, the focus became the BC Dirt Mile. Through October, Goldencents thrived in his workouts.

“This is beyond a good horse,” Sorgenstein said one morning at Santa Anita in October after a work by Goldencents.

A few weeks later, the colt proved Sorgenstein correct.

Goldencents ended his career with 7 wins in 18 starts and earnings of $3,044,000.

Two days after the BC Dirt Mile, Sorgenstein and Kaplan hosted a going-away party for Goldencents on the Santa Anita backstretch. The get-together was the final time the owners and stable staff gathered to celebrate the colt’s accomplishments. After the party, Goldencents was vanned to the Ontario, Calif., airport and flown to Kentucky to begin his stud career at Spendthrift Farm.