Goldencents emerged victorious in the Santa Anita Derby ahead of three out of four challengers trained by the renowned Bob Baffert. The 100 points the three-year-old thoroughbred won now results in a trip to the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
Given the recent success of trainer Doug O'Neill, Goldencents' jockey, Kevin Krigger, and the fact that the horse is partially owned by Louisville basketball head coach Rick Pitino, there is plenty of history to potentially be had at Churchill Downs.
Baffert had won at Santa Anita Park on six previous occasions, and had his Super Ninety Nine set an ambitious pace in the early going. That didn't bother Goldencents, who kept up nicely, then simply had more energy in reserve down the final stretch than heavily favored Flashback.
Zoe Cadman of HRTV captured the scene in the winner's circle in Arcadia:
The "Zoo" - known as The winners circle @Santaanita - Go Goldencents !!!! http://t.co/G4TE011E3R2013-4-7 02:25:35
The margin of victory was ultimately a relatively slim one and a quarter lengths, but the ramifications were far greater.
Twenty spots are available for the Run for the Roses, and the 100 points that Goldencents captured on Saturday resulted in a vault up to third in the Kentucky Derby standings, per the Daily Racing Form.
O'Neill's I'll Have Another triumphed at Santa Anita last year, then went on to win both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Given the odds that Goldencents was able to overcome, he has to be considered a serious contender for the first leg of the 2013 Triple Crown.
In the context of O'Neill's outstanding track record with I'll Have Another, there is reason to believe that Goldencents can also turn the trick—at least in the first massive horse race of the year.
This race in California was the big opportunity for those horses on the West Coast circuit to make their mark and punch a ticket, and Goldencents delivered the goods against tough competition.
A big reason why the thoroughbred crossed the line first, though, is due to Krigger's strong ride and sound strategy. It was the first Grade 1 victory for the jockey, and he expressed his appreciation for the horse afterwards, as documented by Jack Shinar of BloodHorse.com.
"As I've said all along, I've started making history with this horse...This is just the start," said Krigger. "As long as I can get him to relax, his potential is untapped."
Should Krigger notch another win aboard Goldencents at Churchill Downs, he would become the first African American jockey to win the Derby since 1902.
Then, of course, how cool would it be for Goldencents to pull off a win along with Pitino netting his second NCAA championship?
The most exciting two minutes in sports is over in a blur in early May, but the impact that a Goldencents victory would have would linger forever should he nose out his formidable competition. If Saturday's showing is any indication, there is no reason to count him out.