04/02/2013 2:09PM

Santa Anita: Kentucky Derby spot in sight for Goldencents, Krigger

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Barbara D. Livingston
A native of St. Croix, Kevin Krigger would be the first black jockey to win the Santa Anita Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Until this year, jockey Kevin Krigger has wanted nothing to do with Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of May.

“I’ve avoided Derby Day,” he said. “I didn’t want to be there unless I was riding the race.”

Krigger may get his wish to attend America’s biggest race this year. He is the regular rider of Goldencents, the two-time stakes winner who starts as a contender in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on Saturday. A win or second by Goldencents will have Krigger booking a trip to Louisville, Ky., for the Kentucky Derby.

“We’re not there yet, but I pray we can get the job done and that we can win and get there on a high note,” he said.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Krigger, 29, is in new territory with Goldencents, who is trained by Doug O’Neill for a partnership. A native of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Krigger has been the only jockey for Goldencents, a colt by Into Mischief who has won 3 of 5 starts and $800,000. A win Saturday would give Krigger his first Grade 1 victory.

Over the last six months, Goldencents has compiled a strong resume.

Last fall, Goldencents ran second to division champion Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park and won the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes in November, the richest win of Krigger’s career.

This year, the results have been mixed. Goldencents won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes as the 2-5 favorite at Santa Anita on Jan. 5, but was fourth behind Santa Anita Derby hopeful Hear the Ghost in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 9. In the San Felipe, Goldencents fought through a speed duel with favorite Flashback and faded in the final furlong to lose by 2 1/4 lengths.

With the Triple Crown in the near future, O’Neill said he never thought of replacing Krigger after the San Felipe.

“My first thought was, would I get fired?” O’Neill said.

In the last few weeks, O’Neill has tried to teach Goldencents to relax and not be too eager to run away early in a race. Krigger has watched Goldencents’s workouts and is certain the colt can do that in the Santa Anita Derby, run over 1 1/8 miles.

“He can settle for me,” Krigger said. “Last time, I told Doug he was ready to settle and then Flashback got to me and it took away the plan.

“I think the farther he goes, the better he’ll get. That may be hard to believe, but I think he can relax. If you see him relax in the Santa Anita Derby, they’re in trouble.”

Krigger has won 928 races in his career, but only four graded stakes. Two of those were aboard Goldencents.

Krigger’s first win came at Thistledown in Ohio in 2001, but he has ridden primarily on the West Coast, mostly in Northern California and Washington. The leading rider at Emerald Downs in 2005, Krigger rode at Hoosier Park and Suffolk Downs in 2007 and was back at Emerald Downs in 2010 and at Golden Gate Fields for most of 2011.

Krigger had ridden occasionally in Southern California through the 2000s and moved here at the start of 2012. More than a third of Krigger’s mounts this meet have come for O’Neill, and he also has ridden this winter for John Sadler and Neil Drysdale, among others. Through Sunday, Krigger ranked 10th in the jockey standings at Santa Anita with 18 wins, trailing leader Rafael Bejarano, who has 73 wins.

Earlier this year, Krigger was more than just the rider of Goldencents.

After one of the colt’s workouts, with an exercise rider was aboard, Krigger went back to the barn and walked Goldencents himself as he cooled out.

“He’s got a tremendous work ethic and a love for the horse,” O’Neill said.

Riding Goldencents has been the highlight of the year for Krigger, leaving him eager for the upcoming challenges – on Saturday and perhaps at Churchill Downs next month.

“I won’t get nervous,” he said. “I have to do what I’ve had to do. I try to believe in myself and my ability. I’ve been doing this for 12 years.

“This is what I’ve been working for, to try and capitalize on what I can.”

If he wins the Santa Anita Derby, Krigger will become the first black jockey to do so in the 75-year history of California’s most prestigious race for 3-year-olds. Krigger appreciates the historical ramification.

“That would be an honor for me,” he said. “I pray that I can be the one that gets it done.”

John Burton More than 1 year ago
Good luck, Kevin! My wife and I are rooting for you and GOLDENCENTS! We have been close followers of your campaign! Kevin, this Saturday get in your ZONE and RIDE LIKE THE WIN! We will make you our solo pick in the WIN position for our exotics! See you in the WINNER's CIRCLE!
Marcus Semona More than 1 year ago
Good luck kevin, you can do it!
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Goldie already has 29 points, I believe. He has a good chance at making the starting gate at the KY Derby, especially if he hits the board and gets 10 or more points. A win in the SA Derby would be super awesome, especially for Kevin and the sake of making history, but a great effort will get Goldie to The Show. Flashback is in the same boat Goldie is, and needs similar results. Hear the Ghost is already a lock to be in the Derby starting gate May4th. Super Ninety Nine and Tiz A Minister both need to hit the board to get there. It more than possible we will have at least three horses from the Santa Anita Derby that will be in the starting gate at Louisville. Good luck and good fortune to Goldie, Hear The Ghost, Tiz A Minister, Flashback, as well as the other participants, in this Santa Anita Derby. It looks like it's going to be another barn burner of an SA Derby, just like it was last year!
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Who is the clown that hits the thumbs down on this girl. Joy to the world ....
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Thank you, Billy!
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
I'm totally pulling for you, Kevin, and for Goldie. It would be awesome to have history being made by you at this year's Santa Anita Derby! Great good luck and great good fortune to both of you!
Sam More than 1 year ago
When the drawing are released later today, I'll give you the 1-2-3
scott More than 1 year ago
Sam, I like to play supers...can you throw in 4th also?
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
im kinda thinking oneal feels like his triple crown run last year was something he did more then ill have another was just that good. this horse mite turn into a star but the way hes run hes has enough into the ground it looks like hes thinking he can make something out of nothing because of last year
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
I will agree with you about one thing - I'll Have Another is a pretty spectacular race horse, and he is just that good. As we all know, it's hard to get more than one great Derby horse, just ask Barclay Tagg and many other talented trainers about that. It's hard to get lightning in a bottle more than once in a career. Bob Baffert is the exception, of course - he's been very fortunate in his career to have the chance to train many excellent KY Derby winners.
John More than 1 year ago
I hope Im wrong, but they seem to be trying to make Goldencents into something he isnt, that being a distance horse. I think if O'Neil runs this horse into the ground in the Derby he might not ever come back the same. Why not steal some of this big money in the shorter races, sprints and miles, he could be very tough going short. Super Ninety Nine is a real sleeper. That last race was over out of the gate, the track was deep and tiring and you could tell Super wasnt handling it very early. The prior race, was dominant , I could see Baffert covering the board Saturday, I know they think Power Broker is maybe the best of the lot !
Sam More than 1 year ago
About 20 or more years ago, there was a colt whose name I can't recall, but he skipped all the Derby preps and ran in - and won - all the State derbies: Illinois [when it wasn't a prep as now] Ohio, Penn, and others. He wound up the leading money winner of the year. And he turned out to be a pretty good sire. Can anyone remember that horse?
Patrick De Vito More than 1 year ago
Was it Lost Code? Broad Brush?
Albert More than 1 year ago
This article is silly. No way. This horse has no numbers.
Sam More than 1 year ago
The article is about Krigger, not the horse.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
The article is far from silly, in fact, it is topical and quite good. And Goldencents has numbers that are just as good as the other top horses in this race. He fits here and he will, hopefully, do very well here.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
This race could have four horses in the KD starting gate. Hear The Ghost is in. Flashback and Goldencents, who looks like a one-dimensional speed horse, are practically in if they finish in the top four. Only Super 99 needs a big race. Gotta like how he's under the radar after one bad race. He should do much better on SA's hard surface.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Zero , Goldencents should have be coming from off the pace since his Jackpot victory as he showed the patience and courage to do so. Hopefully, hopefully please KK ,ride this horse just like that and breathe, don't get nervous and your team will win $$. What have you done for me lately people think in this betting business. People jump off pretty quick. Not me with this horse. Don't like rider on him but its not my choice. KK just stay away from the come and catch me and wait, wait a little more , and then go finish to the wire and pay $22 for the win.....
Sam More than 1 year ago
You're overlooking Tiz A Minister.
Kimberly Martin More than 1 year ago
Yep - I expect (hope!) him to come running, fast, late & get up there. He may not win, but he'll be in the trifecta.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
I agree with you, Kimberly. Tiz A Minister has an incredible kick. If it's on display Saturday, he's got a great shot at it.
Elijah Allison More than 1 year ago
Don't listen to the ney sayers, just take care of business, goldenscents has it in him I believe....