Trainer Eddie Kenneally did not waste any time getting Santiva to the track at Churchill Downs on the morning of Monday, May 2, as the 3-year-old son of Giant's Causeway was one of the first horses out when the track opened for training at 5:45.
Working in company with Commonwealth Rush under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, Santiva breezed a half-mile in :50 1/5 in preparation for the May 7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). The time was the co-20th fastest of the day among 38 working the distance. Breezing over a track that had been sealed due to the large amount of rain that fell during a severe thunderstorm, Santiva posted fractional times of :13 3/5, :26 1/5, and :38 1/5 while galloping out five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 and six furlongs in 1:17 1/5.
“They finished up together and came home well, just like Eddie wanted,” Bridgmohan said. “We’re less than a week out from the race so it’s more maintenance and you’re not looking for anything special. I thought he went very well.”
“He had just a terrible trip with no running room at Keeneland in the Blue Grass,” Kenneally said. “He didn’t get everything out of the race like we would have liked. But he was fit going into the race, so we’ll be fine. He’s plenty fit.”
Owned by Tom R. Walters, Santiva was bred in Kentucky by Paget Bloodstock. The colt began his career in the barn of Ken McPeek and was third and second, respectively, in his first two starts. Sent to the barn of Todd Pletcher, Santiva was still a maiden when sent into grade I company in the Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland, where he finished second.
Following another barn change, Santiva ended up in Kenneally’s barn and found his way to the winner’s circle for the first time in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at 1 1/16 miles over the Churchill Downs surface when he was ridden by Bridgmohan for the first and only time in his six-race career.
This year, Santiva ran second in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) and was unplaced in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II). He comes into the Derby with a record of 1-3-1, with earnings of $257,597.
Santiva is another in a line of successful horses campaigned by the small stable of owner Walters, who operates an insurance agency in Salem, Indiana, that specializes in long-term care. Among the other top horses owned by Walters recently have been grade II winner Elite Squadron and grade III winner Pretty Prolific.