10/31/2014 6:21PM

Goldencents repeats in BC Dirt Mile

Barbara D. Livingston
Goldencents, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, wins the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile by 1 1/4 lengths Friday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Come hell or high water, Goldencents was going to the early lead in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

In a brazen and brave display, the colt ultimately held off his lone stretch challenger after setting torrid fractions to become the first two-time winner of the $1 million BC Dirt Mile on Friday at Santa Anita.

Urged to the lead from the inside post by Rafael Bejarano, Goldencents was pushed by Vicar’s in Trouble through fractions of 22.06 and 44.80 seconds, a wicked pace that took its toll in view of a final time of 1:35.16 over a fast track.

But that’s completely irrelevant: Goldencents was confronted in upper stretch by Tapiture and met that challenge, never relinquishing his advantage when prevailing by 1 1/4 lengths. Pants On Fire finished third, another five lengths back in a field of nine, with the Chilean import Bronzo rallying for fourth.

Goldencents, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Into Mischief, returned $3.40 as the heavy favorite. Owned by the W.C. Racing of Glenn Sorgenstein and Josh Kaplan, he was making the final start of an 18-race career that ends with seven wins, seven seconds, and earnings of $3,044,000. He will stand at stud next year at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.

“This is special in its own right because this is his last race,” said Sorgenstein. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Goldencents won the Dirt Mile here last year by 2 3/4 lengths with very similar front-running tactics. He was trained at the time by Doug O’Neill, but because O’Neill is serving a suspension pertaining to medication violations, he was replaced this year by his longtime assistant, Leandro Mora.

Goldencents began pulling away from Vicar’s in Trouble entering the far turn to open a huge lead on the others. Out of the pack, Tapiture was the only opponent to make up appreciable ground on the turn, and by the quarter pole, after six furlongs in 1:09.27, it was a two-horse race. But the 3-year-old Tapiture, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, could make no further headway down the lane.

Bejarano, who was aboard for both BC wins on Goldencents, said: “I knew I was going fast, and I had to find a way to give him a little break from the three-eighths to the quarter pole. I was able to do that.  When the other horse started to come to me, I held onto him just a little bit before I turned him loose. When I turned him loose, he fired big.”

“He’s a tremendous horse,” trainer Steve Asmussen said of Tapiture, the 15th-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby in May. “For us to try to get him to the [Kentucky] Derby all spring, and then for him to do this … he is something.”

After the top four, the order of finish was Big Bane Theory, Carve, Fed Biz, Golden Ticket, and Vicar’s in Trouble. Handsome Mike, also trained by Mora, was scratched earlier in the week.

Vicar’s in Trouble, ridden by John Velazquez for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, was vanned off the track after being eased from his early efforts. Dr. Wayne McIlwraith reported two hours later that the colt had suffered an undisplaced fracture of the lateral condyle in the left front fetlock joint.

The $2 exacta (1-9) paid $14.20, the $1 trifecta (1-9-4) returned $35.50, and the 10-cent superfecta (1-9-4-7) was worth $32.89.

This was the eighth running of the Dirt Mile, first run in 2007 at Monmouth Park.