Goldencents, ridden by Kevin Krigger, sprinted to the lead down the stretch and held off Flashback to capture Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby.
Flashback, trained by Bob Baffert, went off as the 11-10 favorite in the eight-horse field with Goldencents at 6-1. Goldencents is partly owned by Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino who is trying for his second NCAA championship this weekend.
San Felipe Stakes champ Hear the Ghost, the 5-2 second pick in the program, was scratched after coming up lame on Thursday.
Setting the pace in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby prep was 9-2 second choice Super Ninety Nine, also trained by Baffert. Goldencents, trained by Doug O'Neill, was racing second to the outside of the pacesetter. Flashback was fourth in the tightly bunched field.
On the final turn, Goldencents swept by Super Ninety Nine with Flashback and jockey Garrett Gomez to the outside. At the top of stretch, Goldencents had the lead with Flashback second a couple of lengths back.
Down the stretch, Goldencents kept driving as the favorite tried to stay close with Super Ninety Nine fading. Goldencents hit the wire 1 1/4 lengths clear of Flashback with Super Ninety Nine holding on for third and Tiz a Minister getting fourth.
Rounding out the order of finish were Power Broker, Storm Fighter, Summer Exclusive and Dirty Swagg.
The time for the race was 1:48.76 on a fast track.
"The further this horse gets the more of a racehorse their gonna see," said a jubilant Krigger.
Part of the new Kentucky Derby points system, winning the Santa Anita Derby was worth 100 points to Goldencents putting him comfortably in the field on May 4.
O'Neill made it back-to-back wins in the race after coming in first last year with I'll Have Another who became the first Santa Anita Derby winner to capture the Run for the Roses since Sunday Silence in 1989.
"We're just so pumped, as long as he stays injury free," said O'Neill.
Goldencents adds $450,000 to his earnings which now stand at $1,245,000 with four wins in six starts.
The colt was coming off a fourth in the San Felipe after winning the Sham Stakes on Jan. 5. He claimed the Delta Downs Jackpot in November to conclude his 2-year-old season. Goldencents won his career debut at Del Mar last September and then finished second at Belmont Park in the Champagne Stakes behind Shanghai Bobby.
Goldencents paid $15.00, $5.40 and $3.40. Flashback returned $3.00 and $2.20, and Super Ninety Nine paid $3.40 to show.