Goldencents made a solid return to sprinting one month ago when second by a head in the Bing Crosby Stakes, and the Santa Anita Derby winner is back on the Del Mar main track Aug. 25 against 12 opponents in the Pat O'Brien Stakes.
Trained by Doug O'Neill for W. C. Racing and partners, the son of Into Mischief will be the only 3-year-old in the packed Pat O'Brien field. The seven-furlong Polytrack test carries an automatic berth to the winner in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile this fall at Santa Anita Park as part of the "Win & You're In" challenge series.
The O'Brien is the seventh race on the TVG Pacific Classic undercard with a scheduled post time of 4:10 p.m. PDT.
Goldencents gets a significant jockey switch. O'Neill tabbed Joel Rosario to replace Kevin Krigger, who has ridden the bay colt in all nine of his previous starts. Goldencents drew post 3.
Sent off as the slight favorite in the July 28 Bing Crosby at six furlongs, Goldencents pulled early toward the inside before swinging out for the drive. He confronted the leading Points Offthebench near the sixteenth pole but was unable to get past in the hotly contested drive.
The race was Goldencents' first since finishing a distant fifth in the Preakness Stakes May 18. Goldencents also won the Sham Stakes this winter and counts four victories in his career with earnings of $1,340,000.
Trainer Bob Baffert sends out a tough pair in Fed Biz and Drill for the O'Brien, and Grade 1 winner Morning Line continues his comeback for trainer John Shirreffs.
Fed Biz, a Grade 2 winner this winter, will be shortening up for the O'Brien and also switching surfaces after racing competitively on the grass in three of his past four races. He comes off a fourth in the Eddie Read Stakes on grass at 1 ⅛ miles, finding himself on the front end along the inside before weakening late and being passed by a couple of closers. In his only prior try at seven furlongs, the 4-year-old Giant's Causeway colt was sixth in last December's Malibu Stakes. He owns a win over Del Mar's Polytrack, taking the one-mile El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds as the favorite a year ago.
Drill continues to perplex after failing to finish in the money in five starts this year. The Lawyer Ron colt returns to the site of his biggest moment, when he captured the 2011 Del Mar Futurity. He was off slowly in his most recent start, the Triple Bend Handicap June 29 at Betfair Hollywood Park, and finished a listless fourth. Drill is 3-for-6 at the O'Brien distance.
"He likes seven-eighths," Baffert noted. "He's run some big races this year, but for some reason, he's just not getting away from the gate like he can. And I've worked him from the gate, he breaks well, and he's been getting off -- it takes him a little bit to get going. And so hopefully he'll not be too far back, because you can't be really too far back on this track. But he is doing well.
"And Fed Biz really likes this track and he worked well [five furlongs in 1:00 flat Aug. 20]," Baffert added. "He really has a liking for this surface, and hopefully we can get something done there also."
Martin Garcia rides Kaleem Shah's Fed Biz while Rafael Bejarano is back aboard Drill, who is owned by the partnership of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman.
Morning Line, the 2011 Carter Handicap winner, made his first start in 13 months in the Triple Bend, getting up for third. Julien Leparoux has the return call for owners W.S. Farish, Dixiana Stables, and Thoroughbred Legends Racing.
Boom Racing Stables Majestic City ran fourth in the Bing Crosby for trainer Ron Ellis, while Batti Man cuts back in distance for trainer Dan Hendricks after setting the pace in the 1 1/16-mile San Diego Handicap and finishing third.
Great Hot, a 5-year-old mare from Brazil, returns to sprinting for trainer A. C. Avila. She was most recently fourth in the Clement L. Hirsch Aug. 3 but won the Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita in February.
Grade 2 victor Handsome Mike is on the comeback trail for O'Neill, while Gonna Fly Now, No Silent, and Wine Police all have wins at the allowance/optional claiming level in their most recent starts over the track. Royal F J completes the field.