PAT O'BRIEN STAKES | PURSE: $250,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | GRADE 2 | 7-FURLONGS
W. C. Racing's Goldencents blazed a path on the front end of Sunday's Grade 2, $250,500 Pat O'Brien at Del Mar and pulled away in the lane to be 4 ¼ lengths clear of 3-2 defending champion Fed Biz on the wire.
The Into Mischief colt finished up seven furlongs over the Polytrack in 1:20.99, breaking the 1:21.12 track record set in this same race a year ago by his rival.
Trainer Doug O'Neill changed tactics with Goldencents, having jockey Rafael Bejarano send the bay colt to the front when the gates opened. The four-year-old ticked off splits of :22 ⅖ seconds and :45 ⅖ seconds while chased by Big Macher and Indexical on the outside with Fed Biz keeping in close contact while saving ground on the rail.
Turning for home, Silentio moved up to take Indexical's spot as that one began backing up. Goldencents, however, showed no signs of slowing down. He continued to power down the lane through six furlongs in 1:08 ⅘ while Fed Biz struggled to make up ground in behind. The 8-5 second pick was never threatened by last year's winner and paid $5.40 to his faithful backers for scoring his fifth stakes victory.
Fed Biz was best of the rest, 1 ½ lengths clear of Silentio. Syndicated filled out the top four another three-quarter length back and was followed under the wire by Color of Courage, Big Macher and Indexical. Diamond Bachelor was withdrawn.
Goldencents actually began his career at Del Mar in September 2012, taking his maiden debut by 7 ¼ lengths. The bay shipped cross-country to Belmont Park for the Champagne, running second on that occasion after ducking in at the start, then made a stop at Delta Downs to triumph in the Delta Downs Jackpot before returning to California and capturing Santa Anita's Sham in his three-year-old debut in January 2013.
Goldencents got a brief two-month break prior to a fourth-placing in the San Felipe, but quickly returned to the winner's circle in the Santa Anita Derby. That earned the colt a shot at Kentucky Derby glory, but he suffered the worse loss of his career when 17th in the Run for the Roses. He fared a little better when recording a fifth-placing in the Preakness but shipped back to California and reverted in distance for his next three races.
The bay brought with him a case of seconditis, missing by a head in the six-furlong Bing Crosby, a length in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien and a half-length in the six-furlong Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Goldencents stretched back out a bit for the Breeders' Cup Mile and proved victorious when wiring that contest by 2 ¾ lengths in his penultimate start as a sophomore. He closed out 2013 with a subpar seventh-placing in the November 30 Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct and was given plenty of time to recover from the jam-packed season.
Goldencents made his four-year-old bow on June 7 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park, finishing second by a length, then cut that margin to just a half-length when runner-up in the Bing Crosby last out on July 27.
The Pat O'Brien is a "Win & You're In" challenge race, guaranteeing Goldencents another shot at the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, and also improved his scorecard to 6-6-0 from 16 career starts while boosting his lifetime bankroll to $2,434,000.
Bred in Kentucky by Rosecrest Farm and Karyn Pirrello, Goldencents brought $5,500 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall yearling before selling for $62,000 when going through the auction ring as the penultimate horse in the 2012 year's OBS June sale. He is out of the winning Banker's Gold mare Golden Works, who is herself a daughter of multiple stakes queen Body Works.
Canadian champion and 1983 Kentucky Derby winner Sunny's Halo is also part of the female family.