GOLDENCENTS HEADS GRADE III SHAM STAKES ON SATURDAY, SHARP COLT ON ROAD TO SANTA ANITA DERBY

COIL, JOHN SCOTT, ULTIMATE EAGLE PROMINENT AMONG NINE ENGAGED FOR GRADE II SAN PASQUAL, IMPORTANT PREP FOR BIG ’CAP

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 1, 2013)—The road to the Grade I Santa Anita Derby begins Saturday at Santa Anita as Goldencents, an impressive gate to wire winner of the Grade III, $1 million Delta Jackpot on Nov. 17, heads a field of six 3-year-olds in Saturday’s Grade III, one-mile Sham Stakes.

With his only setback being a second-place finish in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 6, which was won by eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner undefeated Shanghai Bobby, the Kentucky-bred colt by Into Mischief has two wins from three starts.

Trained by Doug O’Neill, who sent I’ll Have Another out to victories in last year’s Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Goldencents has the look of another bona-fide derby prospect.

“He worked (six furlongs) in 1:10.20 last Thursday and if you didn’t have a stop watch, you’d have thought he went in 1:14 or 1:15, just cruising,” said O’Neill of his newest derby candidate. “I did have a stop watch on him, and as I looked down and saw one-ten and change, it was just, ‘wow!’ It was really amazing.

“He came out of it in great shape, full of energy, and it’s just one day at a time. He’s got to stay injury-free but he’s a real exciting prospect.”

Owned by University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino’s RAP Racing, WC Racing or Kenney, Goldencents will again be ridden by regular pilot Kevin Krigger. His earnings stand at $722,000.

Bob Baffert will send out two talented colts in the Sham, Den’s Legacy and Manando. Den’s Legacy, a winner of the Grade III Generous Stakes at one-mile on turf on Nov. 24, came back to run third, beaten 3 ¾ lengths, in the Grade I CashCall Futurity on Dec. 15. Although he’s shown speed in most of his races, he made a run from well off the pace in the CashCall.

Owned by Westrock Stables LLC, Den’s Legacy has a record of 8-2-3-1, with earnings of $261,350. He will be ridden by Garrett Gomez, who has been aboard in his last four starts.

A fast early pace would appear to be ensured with Baffert’s Manando likely pressuring Goldencents early. The Kentucky-bred colt by Bluegrass Cat exits a 5 ¼-length gate to wire maiden score at 1 1/16 miles, his first try going a route of ground. Manando has had three works since his maiden win, including a half-mile in 46.20 on Dec. 22, best of 74 drills that morning at Santa Anita.

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Manando is 4-1-0-3, with earnings of $46,440. Martin Garcia is back aboard for the Sham.

The complete field for the Sham, to be run as the third of nine races on Saturday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Den’s Legacy, Garrett Gomez, 120; Goldencents, Kevin Krigger, 120; Greeley Awesome, Mario Gutierrez, 118; Dry Summer, Joe Talamo, 118; Dirty Swagg, Tyler Baze, 118, and Manando, Martin Garcia, 118.

GR. II SAN PASQUAL, PREP FOR BIG ’CAP, ATTRACTS NINE AT 1 1/16 MILES

Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s talented Coil figures prominently in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes as the 5-year-old son of Point Given will try to stretch his speed to 1 1/16 miles.

A winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 6, Coil was subsequently an even seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 3, en route to an impressive third-place finish in the Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 24.

In his only try at the San Pasqual distance, the Baffert trainee was victorious, taking the Grade III Affirmed Handicap in June of 2011 at Betfair Hollywood Park.

As an indication of his readiness, Coil worked a bullet five furlongs at Santa Anita on Dec. 29 in 58.40, best of 102 drills at the distance.

Coil’s overall mark stands at 13-6-2-3, with earnings of $1,064,360. Martin Garcia will ride for the fourth consecutive time on Saturday.

Harris Farms’ talented John Scott, a 6-year-old California-bred gelding by Bertrando, has been idle since running a creditable fourth, beaten 4 ½ lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 3.

Trained by Carla Gaines, lightly-raced John Scott enjoyed his best year in 2012, earning $278,704 from a record of 7-3-1-1.

Drawn just to the inside of Coil, this twosome will likely ensure a fast San Pasqual pace. Victor Espinoza, who has won with “John” on four occasions, will ride on Saturday. Bred by Harris Farms and Scott Gross, John Scott has earnings of $382,304 from an overall mark of 10-5-1-1.

B.J. Wright’s versatile Ultimate Eagle, who has won three graded stakes on turf and one on dirt—last year’s Grade II Strub Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, is drawn just inside of John Scott and is expected to be the speed of the San Pasqual speed.

Idle since taking the lead and finishing second as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade II Citation Handicap on Nov. 23, the 5-year-old son of Mizzen Mast returns to dirt on Saturday as he is again pointed to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 2, a race in which he ran poorly as the 2-1 favorite last year.

Trained by Mike Pender, Ultimate Eagle will again be handled by Martin Pedroza, who has ridden him to all five of his career victories. He has earnings of $517,800 from a record of 11-5-1-3.

The complete field for the San Pasqual Stakes, to be run as Saturday’s seventh race, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Jaycito, Julien Leparoux, 118; Hoorayforhollywood, Joe Talamo, 118; Tres Borrachos, Garrett Gomez, 118; Ultimate Eagle, Martin Pedroza, 120; John Scott, Victor Espinoza, 118; Coil, Martin Garcia, 118; Bank the Eight, Rafael Bejarano, 118; Key Decision, Edwin Maldonado, 118, and Golden Itiz, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 118.

First post time on Saturday at Santa Anita is 12:30 p.m.