GOLDENCENTS TOOK’EM TO THE WOODSHED
Down South, we refer to a sound beating in several forms of terminology. One of those is “take’em to the woodshed”. That means you go invite the unsuspecting out back and give them a good beating. Those in attendance at Del Mar on August 24 saw a spirited colt do just that to a talented field in the Pat O’Brien Stakes.
Entering the grade 2 race on the Pacific Classic undercard, Goldencents had been one of those runners that had flashed brilliance at times, but lacked the consistency to be really considered with the biggest of the big time. Over $2 million in career earnings and a win in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile proves he certainly is a larger time horse, but he still has not blossomed as many had thought. Second place finishes in both the Met Mile and Bing Crosby Stakes this year had buoyed hopes his four-year old season could finish strong. Thusly the entrance in the Pat O’Brien came as no real surprise being that the West coast had certainly seen some of his better efforts.
Last year, this same 7 furlong race saw Goldencents gun to the lead only to be run down in the stretch by Fed Biz. It took a track record time to defeat him, but Fed Biz was able to turn on the jets late and defeat this son of Into Mischief by a length. The defending champ was back, but so was Goldencents. Going off as race 9 on the card, front-running speed had faltered throughout the day making Goldencents and his normal boisterous bolt from the gate a bit questionable. With a serious cast that included Silentio, Big Macher, and Syndicated, joining the top two finishers from 2013, the race came in tough. And considering Fed Biz had never lost at Del Mar, things did not look good for the horse with stylish hair.
When the gates opened on the fabulous Del Mar race track, as expected, Goldencents gunned to the lead. Posting very solid fractions (22.87 ¼, 45.44 ½) , this Doug O’Neill trained colt was full of run early, but Fed B
iz and the rest of the entrants were looming. As the horses turned for home Goldencents pulled the whooping stick out of his pocket and took the rest of the pack to the woodshed. In what became a real beat down, under the urging of jockey Rafael Bejarno, Goldencents kicked clear and won easily by 4 ¼ lengths.
“That was the plan, to be aggressive,” says trainer Doug O’Neill. “Rafael gave him a brilliant ride. There was talk Fed Biz was going to the lead, but we just took it to’em. He is a brilliant horse and this performance proved it.”
O’Neill is right about the brilliant performance. With everything seemingly working against Goldencents, he was still able to rise up. What makes the win even more special is the emphatic nature in which it was performed. Refusing to let up, Goldencents not only took those other boys to the woodshed, but also established a new track record for the ¾ of a mile distance (120.99).