Once thought to be one of the hottest horses in North America, Goldencents' stock is at an all-time low after finishing in fifth place at the Preakness Stakes.
Speed was the word associated with Goldencents heading into the Kentucky Derby. This horse impressively won the Santa Anita Derby and posted outstanding speed numbers heading into the first leg of the Triple Crown.
James Scully of BrisNet.com highlighted these numbers before the Derby, writing that Goldencents posted the "top last-race BRIS speed rating (106)" of any horse entered to race at Churchill Downs.
Andrew Beyer of the Washington Post was completely sold on Goldencents' speed and was convinced the horse would win the Derby, writing:
In Saturday’s Derby, there is a colt whose most recent speed figure towers over his rivals’ and whose running style ought to give him a significant tactical advantage. I’m not going to be distracted by any handicapping subtleties. I’m betting on Goldencents.
But then the track turned out to be a mud pit, and though a 17th-place finish was certainly a huge disappointment, it seemed easy to explain.
After the race, Leandro Mora, an assistant trainer to Doug O'Neill, talked about the disappointing finish to HorseRacingNation.com:
He came back A-OK. With all the rain and mud, let’s just say the track was not on our side. (Goldencents) never had to face conditions like that in California. I thought (jockey) Kevin (Krigger) did a great job protecting him...he saw it was hopeless, he eased him up the last part of the race. The track condition made a big difference.
Basically, Goldencents' poor finish at Churchill Downs was easily attributed to the simple idea that he's not a mudder.
But after another miserable performance at the Preakness, it's clear that Goldencents was highly overrated to begin with.
Oxbow wasn't considered to be a sprinter before the Preakness, per se. This was a horse that hadn't won a race since January and hadn't finished in the money in its two prior races.
But surprisingly, if any horse exemplified speed on Saturday at Pimlico, it was Oxbow. Not Goldencents. Handicapper Nick Tammaro was baffled by this result:
Still a little baffling that a horse with Goldencents' speed watched another horse go wire to wire with the Preakness fractions.— Nick Tammaro (@NTamm1215) May 19, 2013
Jockey Kevin Krigger got his horse out to a nice start and displayed nice speed for the first half of the race, but Goldencents was unable to keep up with the torrid pace set by Gary Stevens atop Oxbow.
In the end, two dismal performances at the Derby and the Preakness have marked Goldencents as an over-hyped horse that was tested and found to be lacking the true characteristics of elite race horses.
According to KY Derby Contenders, O'Neill, who appeared on HRTV, isn't likely to take Goldencents to Belmont and lamented that his horse "came up empty" at the Preakness:
O'Neill on HRTV says Goldencents "came up empty today" & is cooling out super. Belmont unlikely.— KY Derby Contenders (@DerbyContenders) May 18, 2013
Was Goldencents overrated or did he just "come up empty?"
It's a disappointing pill to swallow for O'Neill, who was hoping to have another banner year after I'll Have Another's Triple Crown near-miss.
But that's how it goes in professional sports.
One thing's for sure, O'Neill will be back with another hot horse in 2014.
For now, the only way to characterize Goldencents' 2013 campaign is to say it was completely underwhelming.
C'est la vie.
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