2013 Preakness Stakes Handicapping Profile: Goldencents
by Trevor Whenham - 5/13/2013
Last race: Everyone connected to this horse — owner, trainer, jockey, bettors and fans — would like to pretend that the last race just never happened. The Kentucky Derby was about as much of a disaster as it could possibly have been.
Goldencents needs to be on or very near the lead, so when Palace Malice essentially ran away from his jockey early in the race, it was all over for Goldencents. He chased Palace Malice through absolutely suicidal early fractions and then had nothing left in the tank down the stretch. He faded as if he was moving in reverse and was second to last at the finish line. It was ugly, but inevitable.
Fortunately, the scenario was a bit of a fluke — Palace Malice wasn’t the speed threat in the field, and he wasn’t expected to do anything close to what he did. The Derby set up much better for Goldencents if it had turned out as expected, and the chances are that the Preakness will have a much more honest early pace.
Career highlights: Goldencents was the class of the California crop of three year olds this year — though that wasn’t hard since he was really the last one standing.
He won the Santa Anita Derby in his last prep race — the same race that produced Derby winner I’ll Have Another last year. He had another big stakes win in the Sham in January. He won a big race as a two year old, too — the Delta Downs Jackpot.
He was dependent on getting the race he needed, and couldn’t win when he didn’t, but he beat some top competition in impressive style and had the highest Beyer rating in the field heading into the Derby — a 105 in the Santa Anita Derby.
Jockey: Kevin Krigger. Krigger was just the second African-American starter in the Derby in the modern era and had the chance to break a very long streak and become the first African-American winner in far too long to win the race. It didn’t happen, of course, but he still has a shot at some history here.
Krigger can’t be blamed for what happened in the Derby, but his lack of experience on the biggest stage is a concern nonetheless. He’s a solid jockey but not at the same elite levels as the best in this field. That doesn’t have to be a problem, of course — Mario Gutierrez won the Derby and Preakness last year after virtually no experience in graded stakes races of any sort. It’s not ideal, though — especially with something as technically challenging for a jockey as a frontrunner.
Trainer: Doug O’Neill. There are two sides to O’Neill, and you can’t discuss one without the other. On one hand, he is the guy who won the Derby and Preakness last year with I’ll Have Another and who seemed poised to win the Belmont as well before the horse was scratched.
He wins big races, and he does it oftentimes with jockeys outside of the elite of the Southern California circuit.
Now the dark side.
He has more positive drug tests than any trainer in the country, and he pushes the boundaries of what he can get away with at least as much as any trainer today. He’s a hard guy to like and respect despite his success, and it makes it hard for some bettors to back him in the biggest races now that scrutiny is so intense on him after last year.
Pedigree: Frontrunners need stamina to hold on — especially in longer races such as the Triple Crown challenges. On that front I am not in love with Goldencents.
Both sire Into Mischief and damsire Banker’s Gold are quality sires. They both tend to produce middle-length winners, though — up to a mile and a sixteenth. There isn’t a lot of evidence that they produce well beyond that, so it’s hard to get really excited about this horse.
That doesn’t suggest that Goldencents can’t win this race. It’s just a reason for some concern.
Preakness prognosis: I’m not that optimistic. He is going to try to wire this field — something only five horses have managed to do in the last 27 years of this race. He’s likely to be able to get the early lead, but he’ll be pushed by Govenor Charlie.
Of more concern, the class of this field is all going to be coming from off the pace and closing hard on Goldencents. Given the stamina concerns, I’m not convinced he can hold on. That being said, the race sets up far better for him than the Derby did because the speed is likely to be much more realistic.
I likely won’t bet him to win, but given the attention that will be on Orb there will probably be value for those who do choose include him in their 2013 Preakness Stakes handicapping.
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