08/23/2013 3:33PM

Del Mar: Pat O'Brien distance right in Goldencents's comfort zone

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DEL MAR, Calif. – The reinvention of Goldencents as a sprinter can continue in Sunday’s $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar.

Already this year, Goldencents has won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at a mile, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles, and finished a game second in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at six furlongs here on July 28.

The colt has proven to be adaptable to several distances, giving trainer Doug O’Neill the hope that the seven-furlong distance of the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien will work for the three-time stakes winner.

“He can be effective going seven furlongs or a mile, “O’Neill said. “I think he has a big chance.”

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The result may determine how Goldencents is campaigned for the rest of the year. The Pat O’Brien winner receives an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 through the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program. At the same time, Goldencents is considered by O’Neill and the partnership that owns the colt to be a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs.

“We’ve got options,” O’Neill said.

First, Goldencents must prevail against 12 older rivals in the Pat O’Brien, which drew a strong field. The competition includes the mare Great Hot, who won the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes in February; Fed Biz, who won the El Cajon Stakes here in 2012; Drill, who won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity here in 2011; and No Silent, the impressive winner of an allowance race at 6 1/2 furlongs on July 25.

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Goldencents has never raced at seven furlongs, but did beat maidens here in a race at 5 1/2 furlongs last September, his career debut. Joel Rosario rides Goldencents on Sunday, replacing Kevin Krigger, who was aboard for the colt’s first nine starts.

“He loves this track,” O’Neill said of Goldencents. “He had an impressive maiden win in his debut and a good second in the Bing.”

No Silent, a three-time winner on turf, makes his stakes debut in the Pat O’Brien and could play an important role as a pacesetter. On July 25, No Silent won his debut on the Polytrack synthetic surface, leading throughout under jockey Gary Stevens, who has the mount on Sunday.

Trainer Gary Mandella said that No Silent prefers the Del Mar synthetic surface to the synthetic Cushion Track surface at Betfair Hollywood Park.

“He didn’t train well enough on synthetic at Hollywood to justify running him there,” Mandella said. “He’s trained much better down here. As a 4-year-old, he’s more developed and he has a lot more confidence.”

Trainer Bob Baffert starts Drill and Fed Biz, who are in the midst of losing streaks. Fed Biz is winless in five starts since a victory in the Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita last January.

Drill is winless in six starts since the Grade 3 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park in May 2012. Drill is likely to race from off the pace, which Baffert said is a concern.

“He breaks and he falls back,” Baffert said. “He always comes running late.”