Santiva is running this weekend in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland. I’m expecting big things from him. Polytrack doesn’t seem to bother him—he has one synthetic race (the G1 Breeder’s Futurity at age 2, also at Keeneland), and while he encountered some issues at the start of the race that placed him much farther back early on than he would prefer, he still got up for second place and maintained his increasing Beyer trend (which has continued all the way to a 91 the G2 Risen star, his last race). The Risen Star was his first race of 2011, and while the possibility of a “bounce” in this race certainly can’t be discounted, I can easily envision him improving further, too. Even with a bounce, as long as he finishes the race with some class (this is not an official use of the term by any means, but I consider finishing a race with class to be fighting to the finish without quitting or fading to the back of the pack) and has enough earnings to make it into the gate—he has $240,254 and is 18th in the standings at the moment—I would definitely not write this horse off come Derby day.
Santiva is a Giant’s Causeway, so I certainly don’t imagine that distance of the mile and 1/8 of this race (or the mile and 1/4 of the Kentucky Derby) to be a serious issue. His dam was unraced, and I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t know much about Smarten (Santiva’s damsire) until I did a little research on PedigreeQuery, but it appears he was a successful G2 and G3 stakes winner and even set a 9F track record at Thistledown before standing stud in Maryland, so this can only help him further as he stretches out in distance.
On one final note, Santiva appears to run his best races from right off the pace without being too far behind the leaders, so if he can get a decent break from the gate (much easier said than done!) I consider him to have an ideal running style for the Kentucky Derby stampede.