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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• SHAM WINNER GOLDENCENTS PONDERS NEXT DANCE
• SAN PASQUAL WINNER COIL RETIRED TO STUD IN CALIFORNIA
• MITCHELL ON LEPAROUX: IT’S NOT ALL RELATIVE
• OCTOGENARIAN AGENT HAS OLD PROBLEM FOR NEW YEAR
GOLDENCENTS FINE BUT NO PLANS YET FOR NEXT RACE; KRIGGER PLAYS IT COOL
Goldencents, ridden to perfection by Kevin Krigger, came out of his length and a half victory in Saturday’s Grade III Sham Stakes in top shape but no decision has been made on the colt’s next race on the Triple Crown trail.
“No plans right now,” trainer Doug O’Neill said Sunday morning. “But he ate up great and his legs are ice cold. We’ll meet up with the owners over lunch in 10 days and map out an agenda.”
Goldencents picked up 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for his Sham score and is the current point leader in the Run for the Roses with 24 overall.
From the outset, Saturday’s Sham had the look and feel of a major derby prep as Goldencents had to deal with two Bob Baffert trainees early, as Baffert’s Den’s Legacy, who drew the rail and was ridden by Garrett Gomez, came outward and bumped Goldencents leaving the gate. Baffert’s Manando, who broke from the outside with Martin Garcia, cut to the rail, causing Krigger to steady off heels while having to settle for second position into the Club House turn.
“We thought that with Baffert having two horses in the race, one closer (second-place finisher Den’s Legacy) and one speed horse (third-place finisher Manando), we figured Garcia would send really hard,” said O’Neill. “Kevin said he could sense leaving the gate that Garcia was doing that, so he wasn’t going to get caught up in a crazy pace duel . . . As the waters get deeper, you’ve got to be versatile and I think Goldencents and Kevin showed their versatility today.”
O’Neill’s recent 3-year-old acquisition Mudflats, a disappointing seventh after attending the pace to the three-quarter marker in Saturday’s mile and 70 yards Grade II Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, also came out of the race none the worse for wear.
The gray son of Tapit was beaten some 16 lengths by 11-10 favorite Vyjack.
“He came out great,” O’Neill said. “He’ll fly to California Tuesday or Wednesday and hopefully we’ll regroup and develop a plan.”
COIL GAME IN SAN PASQUAL WIN AND IS RETIRED TO STUD DUTY IN CALIFORNIA
In a stirring stretch battle, Coil, ridden by Martin Garcia, and Ultimate Eagle, with Martin Pedroza up, were separated by head at the finish of Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Pasqual Stakes with Coil prevailing in what was his last dance, according to Bob Baffert.
“That was it,” said Baffert. “He’ll be retired to stud. He’ll go to Magali Farm. I think he deserves to be retired. He’s good. He’s very healthy right now, but it’s time to send him to stud.
Although Coil, a 5-year-old son of Point Given, will be embarking upon a different career, Ultimate Eagle will now set his talons firmly set on the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, to be run on March 2.
“He ran his race, he just got beat by a better horse today,” said trainer Mike Pender. “This was going to be a nice prep for some other spots and (then) the Big ’Cap . . . He’s a big, 1,200 pound animal and he definitely needed this race. It was his second race off the layoff and now we’ve got him set.”
MITCHELL ON LEPAROUX: IT’S ALL IN THE FAMILY, BUT BUSINESS IS BUSINESS.
When Mike Mitchell gives Julien Leparoux a leg up on one of his horses, he’s doing it both as a trainer and as a father-in-law.
It’s been the latter since the world-class jockey married the daughter of Mike and Denise Mitchell, Shea, last month.
It’s business before pleasure or vice-versa. Either way, it works for Mitchell.
“I rode him before Shea ever met him,” Mitchell said of the 29-year-old Frenchman, Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s outstanding jockey in 2009. “He rode On the Acorn for me for Jack Disney (one of the owners of Indizguys Stable). That was way before Shea ever met him. I’ve always liked him as a rider.”
Leparoux won an Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey of 2009. That year he became the second rider in history to win three Breeders’ Cup races in a single year.
“He’s a good rider and such a nice young man, I enjoy everything about him.,” Mitchell continued. “My owners want to ride him, but I’m no different from anybody else. He’s going to ride the best horse he wants to ride and if it comes down to me and (Steve) Asmussen and Asmussen has the better horse, I understand that.
“You’re not going to be first call on Mike Mitchell, that’s for sure. A lot of people want to ride him. He’s the closest thing to (Eddie) Delahoussaye. He’s got a great set of hands. He can settle a horse and I think that’s important.”
YOUNG AT HEART IVAN PUHICH LOOKS TO THE FUTURE
A year ago, Ivan Puhich was about to embark on the ride of his life. Today, he is a race track lifer looking for a jockey.
Last year, Puhich hooked up with an unknown rider named Mario Gutierrez who would go on to become an overnight sensation at 25 by winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness on I’ll Have Another, and come within a heartbeat of going for racing’s elusive Triple Crown, only to have the opportunity squelched due to a last-minute injury to the horse.
Today, Puhich, can only watch from the sidelines as another obscure but talented rider, Kevin Krigger, starts down what could lead to the Kentucky Derby on a 3-year-old colt named Goldencents, like I’ll Have Another, trained by Doug O’Neill.
“Krigger’s a very good rider,” said Puhich, a tall, lean ex-Marine who turned 86 on Dec. 22. “He came to California as a young person (he’s now 29) and he wasn’t that good, but he went to the bushes in Seattle and places like that and became quite an accomplished jockey. There’s nothing wrong with Krigger’s riding. He’s a very good rider.”
Racing could benefit from the experience of men like Puhich, who has been on the race track “my whole life. My dad, John, had horses. If the opportunity comes for me to take a young rider, I might take him under my wing and teach him what I know,” Puhich said. “But right now, I’ll have to wait and see.”
FINISH LINES: Orlando Mojica won his third race of the meet when he piloted 21-1 shot Secret Genius to a come-from-behind half-length victory in Saturday’s ninth race, resulting in a Pick 6 payout of $296,085.60 to one winner of a ticket purchased in Nevada, which according to Santa Anita Director of Pari-Mutuels Randy Hartzell, was bought for $18,000. “I never rode the horse before, but the trainer (Steve Knapp) told me the horse had a big shot,” Mojica said. “It was a fast pace and the race set up perfect for me. I got to save ground and kept the horse nice and easy and relaxed.” A native of Puerto Rico, the 30-year-old Mojica is represented by agent Dudley Osborne . . . With 1,163 contestants picking 2-5 winner Goldencents to finish at least third in yesterday’s Sham Stakes, ShowVivor had 2,103 players remaining alive going into Sunday’s races.