Tom R. Walters’ Santiva breezed five furlongs in 1:01 at Churchill Downs June 4 in his final preparation for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in one week. The workout ranked sixth among 27 horses working that distance over a fast dirt track.
A son of Giant's Causeway trained by Eddie Kenneally, Sanitva broke his maiden with a victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) as a 2-year-old. This season, he ran second in the Risen Star (gr. II) before finishing ninth in the Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) and sixth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
With assistant trainer Brendan Walsh aboard, Santiva breezed in company with stablemate Manx Miss while posting fractional times of :13, :25 1/5 and :36 4/5. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 2/5.
“I’m very happy with him,” Kenneally said. “He hasn’t missed a beat since the Derby. He’s been on schedule and has had a good four weeks, and hopefully he’ll have another good week until we get to the Belmont.”
Santiva is scheduled to ship June 7 to Belmont, where both Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford will be awaiting in the 1 1/2 mile race.
“He didn’t get everything out of the Blue Grass that we had wanted,” Kenneally said, noting the colt's traffic problems during the race. “He got a little bit tired, perhaps, in the Derby. He’s a horse that’s done well since then and we’re happy enough with the way he ran on Derby Day.”
Kenneally believes Santiva is ready for the distance challenge of the Belmont Stakes.
“The thing about it is you don’t know who is going to really be a mile-and-a-half horse until you try, so you don’t know about those horses either,” Kenneally said. “Our horse is a horse that likes to run, he doesn’t quit and he keeps grinding it out. He’s a tough little horse and he keeps fighting. He’s tactical and he doesn’t have to be coming from way back.
“He likes to run in the middle of the pack, relatively close to the leader in the first tier of runners, so I think his running style would be effective in a race like the Belmont. I don’t think the Belmont favors closers. The Belmont traditionally, for the most part, favors horses that like to lay up close to the pace; not on the lead, necessarily, but close to the pace.”
Shaun Bridgmohan, who was aboard Santiva in both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Jockey Club, is scheduled to ride once again in the Belmont.
The Kentucky Jockey Club victory is the sole win to date for Santiva ,who has three seconds and a third to his credit with earnings of $257,597.