06/19/2013 12:52PM

Dick Jerardi: Put Goldencents, Vyjack on horses to watch list

Barbara D. Livingston
Vyjack (far left) and Goldencents (right) were part of a hot early pace in the Kentucky Derby. They should be expected to run well when they resurface this summer.

After the half-mile fraction (45.33 seconds) of the Kentucky Derby was posted, the first five horses in order were Palace Malice, Verrazano, Goldencents, Vyjack, and Oxbow. They finished 12th, 14th, 17th, 18th, and sixth, respectively.

As far as I know the term “key race’’ was coined by the Steve Davidowitz, author of the seminal work “Betting Thoroughbreds’’ and one of the game’s true independent thinkers. I am now ready to coin the term “key pace.’’

Oxbow won the Preakness. Palace Malice won the Belmont Stakes. Verrazano won the Pegasus Stakes. None of the races was close.

Goldencents and Vyjack did not fire in their first races since that Derby pace blew up anything close to it and set it up for a group of horses who have not win since the Derby. But I do have both on my watch list. They deserve another chance. They had no chance in the Derby, just like the winners of those three races.

If I were voting for 3-year-old champion today, I would vote for Derby winner Orb with his terrific overall r é sum é . If there was a vote for Triple Crown champion, my vote would go to Oxbow with his incredible efforts in the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont.

In the last 15 years, only two horses who ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown were able to win the Belmont. Point Given and Afleet Alex were brilliant horses, far better than Oxbow, but no tougher.

The two horses who dueled with Oxbow in the Belmont finished last and next to last. Little Oxbow never stopped trying. He was not going very fast in the stretch, but he was going. If it was just about effort, Oxbow would be a champion.

Oxbow’s Belmont was reminiscent of his Derby. He had every reason to retreat, but never did. He is probably not talented enough to get on a long winning streak, but beating him is going to take something out of whatever horses do it.

Now that we have a little distance and context to evaluate this Triple Crown, I think it is fair to conclude we saw some nice, durable horses without the kind of ability that will make any of them memorable over time.

What we saw last weekend, however, was memorable.

When I watched Paynter win that allowance race at Betfair Hollywood Park last Friday, it was impossible not to smile during the running. The colt was winning with total ease. I knew the time was fast, but it was not until I saw the other times on the card that I realized it was something very special.

I was there at Monmouth Park last summer when Paynter destroyed the Haskell field and earned a 107 Beyer. This, clearly, was the 3-year-old who was going to dominate the back end of a season that had been decimated by injury and illness.

The rest of the summer was spent wondering if Paynter was going to live or die. Death seemed a heavy favorite.

A bit more than 300 days after the Haskell, Paynter was a heavy favorite in a starting gate. And ran like the special talent he appeared to be that July Sunday on the Jersey Shore.

Paynter did not just win. He got a 114 Beyer.

We don’t make many numbers much bigger than that these days. It is the kind of figure that can win any race any time anywhere.

Bob Baffert was trying to tell us all something in April 2012 when Paynter’s second career start was in the Santa Anita Derby. The colt did not win that day, but he was beaten slightly less than four lengths by eventual Derby winner I’ll Have Another.

That was the promise. Last week’s allowance race was the delivery. Let’s hope there is much more to come.

If I had a wish for Santa Anita this fall, it would be to see a top-of-his-form Paynter in the Breeders’ Cup Classic starting gate with Game On Dude and Fort Larned.

My absolute favorite scene at a racetrack is a high-class speed horse running really good horses right off their feet. That was Fort Larned on Saturday night at Churchill Downs. The five horses chasing him had combined earnings of nearly $6 million. They had no chance.

Fort Larned started off running fast and never really slowed down. His third and fourth fractions were 23.50 and 24. No horse is running that down, and none came close in the Stephen Foster when Fort Larned ran right back to his BC Classic win and got a 115 Beyer.

A week after a Triple Crown that was dominated by humans who had put so much into the game and got rewards for lifetimes of achievement, the horses took center stage as the second season began and gave promise of a summer and fall that has every chance to create some lasting memories.


kc m More than 1 year ago
why didn't drf report that orb was one of only two entrants in the belmont NOT to get any medications within 72 hours of the race?
richard cowles More than 1 year ago
All good...but what does none of the races was close mean?
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
What are we watching for? Which one will ever win a race again first? Stop it Dick Jerardi. There is nothing here.
Robert Clayton More than 1 year ago
it's funny those two made your list when Normandy Invasion didn't....He was also close to the pace in the Derby and was far and away the best horse that day....Even though he is distance challenged as well as most of this crop
kc m More than 1 year ago
NI has only won a MSW, he's still eligible for a NW2--he's lost every race he's entered this year.
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
Both Vyjack and Goldencents are from the first crop of Into Mischief. In case you don't remember him, Into Mischief won the G1 Hollywood Futurity late at 2, then it was generally downhill. He was second in the 7f San Vicente S but went on the shelf thereafter. He won an ungraded sprint at Oak Tree, ran second in the 7f Malibu S, then was hurt again. By the honest but 9f-limited Lawyer Ron from a miler sort of family, he didn't quite live up to expectations. Mare owners might have hoped his get might stay better than he did, but if you breed a mare by sprinter Stravinsky out of a mare by sprinter Apalachee to him, how can you expect the offspring (Vyjack) to stay better than he did? It might happen 1 out of a couple hundred times, but mostly you get what you breed for.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Great post Ann. Thanks. Additionally Derby name horses don't usually offer much value in the second half of the season.
Wendy Tulenko More than 1 year ago
Into Mischief is by Harlan's Holiday, not Lawyer Ron.
Greg Stevens More than 1 year ago
Very correct
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
Same problem - competitive up to 9f, had trouble closing the deal farther. Honest horses both of them (which is why I conflated them).
prose More than 1 year ago
Crap. Paynter wins against nothing. Big deal. Hardly worth a yawn. The final times of the TC races this year were abysmal. It's actually depressing to contemplate how pitifully slow they were. BUT !!!! --- None of these horses are bred for classic distances; so, while horses like Paynter can throw up numbers at sprint distances, the longer they go the slower they get. As for Fort Larned, a 147.2 was excellent; let's see if he has even an ounce of consistency about him. Alas, methinks we will wade through another crop of sub-par 3 three year olds who will be soundly trounced by their elders come fall.
Dave Schuler More than 1 year ago
Tou Call What He Has Been hrough (AND A 114 Byer )nothing-Wake Up-LOLock_DS
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
Of all the horses out there, Paynter is probably better bred for a distance than most. He is by BC Classic winner Awesome Again out of a full sister to two-time BC winner Tiznow. If that sounds familiar, its because it is exactly Oxbow's pedigree - they out of full sisters, Tizso and Tizamazing, and by the same sire.
edb More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed with both the Preakness and the Belmont. Oxbow getting a 106 Beyer was smoke and mirrors and the absolutely pokey finish in NY just doesn't add to my admiration of this year's 3 year olds. So many of this year's trials were slow won by plodders, not that I didn't bet them. Also not a fan of running a 5 pack posse to accomplish what one horse can do. Oxbow was the overall best overachiever and Orb won't be a Mine That Bird and will rebound with some rest. As for the the Palace backers, you really earned your money.
RJay64 More than 1 year ago
DRF needs pace figures as part of the normal 2.95 PPs. It's bizarre not to include them. That would help handicappers make the "pace play" angle talked about in this article.
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Goldencents, is a Southern Cal Horse...he did not the any of the tracks back east...He will freshen...and I hope they run him no farther than a Mile and a 1/16......He will bounce back once at home....Vyjack was my Longshot for the Derby..I think they pushed him to fast..He had problems...I think he's a real nice colt needs to be given some more time....
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Goldencents would be a horse, a good horse to watch if Doug O"Neil would just put a real race rider on his back and take whats his face OFF !