07/23/2013 2:50PM

Del Mar: Goldencents to keep it short for O'Neill, with Bing Crosby next

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Barbara D. Livingston
After winning the Santa Anita Derby, Goldencents ran 17th in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the ­Preakness. His trainer, Doug O’Neill, has been quite impressed with his workout performances.

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Goldencents left California for the Kentucky Derby in late April as the state's leading 3-year-old, weeks removed from a sharp win in the Santa Anita Derby.

He returned less than a month later as an afterthought in the division. A 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby on May 4 and a fifth in the Preakness Stakes on May 18 left Goldencents without standing among the nation's 3-year-olds.

If Goldencents makes it back into the national discussion this year, he will do so in the sprint division. On Sunday, Goldencents will make his first start at less than a mile since last September in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes over six furlongs at Del Mar.

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Even though Goldencents was successful up to the 1 1/8 miles of the Santa Anita Derby, trainer Doug O'Neill argues that the colt is a natural at shorter distances.

"He's the fastest horse I've had in a long number of years at anything up to a mile," he said last weekend.

Goldencents was the beneficiary of ample attention in the buildup to the Kentucky Derby, largely because University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is part of the ownership team and O'Neill won the 2012 Kentucky Derby with I'll Have Another.

There were a lot fewer people around the barn the day after the Derby, or after Goldencents was beaten 9 1/2 lengths by Oxbow in the Preakness Stakes. There was never a plan of trying the Belmont Stakes over 1 1/2 miles in New York on June 8.

"You can put a line through the Kentucky Derby," O'Neill said. "I thought he gave a bright performance in the Preakness. After laying an egg in the Kentucky Derby, I was proud of the way he came back. I thought he ran a credible race. He fought through two legs of the Triple Crown."

The ever-optimistic O'Neill conferred with co-owners Glenn Sorgenstein, Josh Kaplan, and Dave Kenney to plan a campaign for the second half of 2013 geared toward shorter races. Goldencents beat maidens over 5 1/2 furlongs in his debut at Del Mar last September and won the one-mile Sham Stakes in January, but otherwise raced at 1 1/16 miles or farther in the first half of this year.

What Goldencents has accomplished in workouts in the last year has left O'Neill hopeful that the shorter distances will work.

"I've seen him do stuff at five furlongs and under that is the sort of thing that makes you look at your watch and think, 'Oh my goodness,' " O'Neill said. "He's got a tremendous stride and he's very fast."

Goldencents has won 4 of 8 starts and $1,280,000, a successful start to a career by any measure. He has run in five states, with the highlight outside of California a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes last November.

"We took him to New York, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Baltimore," O'Neill said. "That's a lot of road trips. The only bad race was in Kentucky."

In the Grade 1 Bing Crosby, Goldencents will face a stern test. The field is expected to include Jimmy Creed, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita last December, and possibly Fast Bullet, who won the Grade 2 True North Handicap at Belmont Park in June.

The Bing Crosby is part of the Breeders' Cup Win and You're In program, offering a fees-paid berth for the winner to the BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in November. Earlier this month, the partnership paid $50,000 to nominate Goldencents to the Breeders' Cup program for the rest of his career.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

Even though Goldencents has not run on turf, a Breeders' Cup start is a goal. A victory Sunday in a Win and You're In race could lead to a start in the BC Sprint or BC Dirt Mile.

"You win one of those Win and You're In races and things start making sense," O'Neill said. "This is something we talked about. It opens some doors, and we can stay on the Left Coast."

Ricky Williams More than 1 year ago
This one will open up some eyes soon. Tear em up boys!
morton erskine More than 1 year ago
Wake up Doug...Get this guy to Portland!
Dick More than 1 year ago
Mort, get real this is a good horse...............
morton erskine More than 1 year ago
After the Crosby, lets make van reservations for Portland!
Patrick Kane More than 1 year ago
why is this not for the sprint? Nice job breeders cup
Barbara Bowen More than 1 year ago
That is a significant head scratcher.
Cleon Silence More than 1 year ago
i have to wonder if this trainer is just now figuring out this is a sprint horse, then I have to think it is time to change trainers
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
And the fact that the horse won the most prestigious race for three year olds in California over 1 1/8 doesn't man anything ?
Sherwin Root More than 1 year ago
So they should give back the Santa Anita Derby and Sham victories? That's rather silly. He actually may be optimal as a miler, but that's what Doug now has to figure out.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
That is weird. SoCal has 3 grade 1 sprints, and 2 are win and in for races other than the Sprint. The 7f Triple Bend is win and in for the Dirt Mile and the Crosby is for Turf Sprint. The only reasoning for the Crosby being win and in for Turf Sprint is the fact that it is run on Del Mar Polytrack, which certainly doesn't resemble or play like dirt. However, recent winners of the Bing Crosby, Smiling Tiger(two 3rds in BC Sprints on dirt), Euroears(won multiple dirt stakes), and Amazombie(won BC Sprint on Churchill dirt) were traditional dirt sprinters that just so happened to be able to reproduce their form on synth.
Patrick Kane More than 1 year ago
there have been multiple breeders cup sprint winners to come thru the Crosby since the installation of the polytrack. Which one of the horses entered for Sunday is a turf sprinter exactly? Moreover, under your logic the pacific classic should be a win and your in for the turf as well since its run on polytrack and the spinster at keenland should be a win and your for the filly an mare turf. the fact that there is only one win and your in for the sprint in So Cal only strengthens my argument.
Patrick Kane More than 1 year ago
I am idiot and didnt read your post fully so I apologize.