LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Back at Churchill Downs for the first time since winning the Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another, trainer Doug O’Neill is thinking about winning another one.
And why not? This time, the trainer has Goldencents, who like I’ll Have Another comes into the Saturday’s Derby off a victory in the Santa Anita Derby.
“It’s great to be back,” O’Neill said. “It’s wonderful looking at the twin spires and dreaming of what could be coming on May 4.”
Goldencents has O’Neill looking forward to Saturday, especially after the 3-year-old colt took his first jog around the track. A day after making the flight from California, the colt co-owned by Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino jogged a leisurely mile with exercise rider Jonny Garcia aboard. Jockey Kevin Krigger looked on.
“He looked great,” O’Neill said. “We just had an easy day with him, but I was real happy with the way he looked, (and) Jonny was happy with the way he felt. If all goes well, we’ll gallop him (Monday).”
Goldencents had his last workout Thursday at Santa Anita, covering six furlongs in 1 minute, 16.20 seconds. Most notable was covering the final three furlongs in 36.00 seconds, boosting O’Neill’s outlook.
Goldencents has won two of three starts this year and has four wins in six career races. After a fourth-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes, the colt rebounded with a 1¼-length win over Flashback in the Santa Anita Derby.
Krigger has been the regular rider and will have a chance to become the first black jockey to win the Derby since 1902. Although Krigger wasn’t sure whether he’d get aboard Goldencents before Saturday, O’Neill has about 10 mounts planned for him so the jockey can get familiar with the track.
“I’m happy either way how we do it, so it doesn’t really matter to me if I do or not,” Krigger said. “I would like to, though.”
Florida Derby runner-up Itsmyluckyday jogged just over a mile following his van trip from Florida. The Holy Bull winner had his last workout Thursday at Calder Race Course, clocking 53:00 seconds.
Exercise rider Peter Shelton said Itsmyluckyday was bouncing and eager to keep going during his jog — just the kind of enthusiasm trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. was looking for.
“Everything went according to the plan that we had,” Plesa said. “It couldn’t have gone any better.”
The only Derby contender to post a workout Sunday was Code West, who went five furlongs in 1:00.40 under Hall of Famer Mike Smith. The workout pleased trainer Bob Baffert following the horse’s sixth-place run in the Louisiana Derby, but Code West’s status for the Derby will be determined after he meets with owner Gary West.