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Rick Pitino's Horse Goldencents Wins Santa Anita Derby

Courtesy of Benoit Photo
Courtesy of Benoit Photo
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIJune 20, 2016

Louisville Cardinals head basketball coach Rick Pitino not only beat Wichita State on Saturday to reach the NCAA tournament final, but he notched a major victory elsewhere in the sports world.

Pitino partially owns the three-year-old thoroughbred Goldencents, who strode to victory in the Santa Anita Derby in California by one-and-a-quarter lengths.

As the Lexington Herald-Leader's Ben Roberts pointed out, the win means that Goldencents has qualified for the Kentucky Derby:

The renowned college coach used to lead the Kentucky Wildcats' program as well, so his state ties are strong. He won't have to stray far from his own backyard when he watches his horse compete in Louisville's Churchill Downs.

Goldencents entered the race with just five starts under his belt but had won three of them, according to Equibase.com.

One of those victories came back in January at Santa Anita Park. Legendary trainer Bob Baffert had three top contenders in this race, led by odds-on favorite Flashback (via Sporting News.com).

As it turns out, a similar strategy that caused Flashback to lose his only race prior to this one backfired once again, despite the presence of new jockey Garrett Gomez. At San Felipe, Flashback was ridden too hard and ran out of gas down the stretch, allowing Hear the Ghost to emerge victorious.

A similar outcome occurred on Saturday in Arcadia.

Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form reported the winning time for Goldencents, which was 1:48.76.

Coming down the final stretch, the prohibitive favorite Flashback was out in front, but Goldencents had more left in the tank. Flashback settled for second, while pace-setter Super Ninety-Nine—another Baffert horse—wound up third.

Goldencents' jockey Kevin Krigger has a chance to make history at Churchill Downs, too. Krigger will look to become the first African American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby since 1902, when Jimmy Winkfield notched the second of his back-to-back victories.

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