Apr
14
2011

Santiva at Keeneland

Santiva got in a workout on the Polytrack before his run in the G1 Toyota Blue Grass stakes this Saturday. He is currently the 3-1 morning line favorite in the 1 1/8 mile prep race for the Kentucky Derby and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux for the first time.

Santiva

CREDIT: Keeneland Facebook page

Apr
13
2011

Contender or Pretender – Santiva

Santiva PPs

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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.

Verdict: Contender

Apr
13
2011

The Factor at Oaklawn

The Factor arrived at Oaklawn Park at 9:45 yesterday morning, accompanied by fellow Bob Baffert trainees Switch and Miss Match. The Factor will run in the G1 Arkansas Derby on April 16.

The Factor

CREDIT: The Factor Facebook page

Apr
12
2011

Contender or Pretender – Dialed In

As we lead up to Kentucky Derby 137 on May 7th, I am going to be looking at some of the Derby probables and giving my analysis of their chances of being able to capture the biggest (not to mention longest!) race they’ve ever run—the mile and a quarter Kentucky Derby.

The first horse I’ve chosen to look at is a fairly obvious pick at this stage of the game: Dialed in. Dialed in has pretty much done everything right so far. His only loss to date has been to his older stablemate Equestrio in an 1 1/8 mile allowance race on March 6th, and if you look at the race line highlighted below you’ll notice how far outside of his normal running style Dialed In was forced to run. In his other three races, Dialed In was pretty much dead last early on and made one sweeping run into the stretch to capture the win. In this allowance race, however, he was fourth and a mere 2 1/2 lengths off the leader due to a much slower early pace than he had previously encountered.

Dialed In PPs

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Taking a horse this far outside of his preferred running style can often have adverse consequences, and true to that point Dialed In was unable to run down Equestrio before the wire. The fact that he came within a half length of winning despite this is something that I find encouraging, and shows at least some adjustability in his running style which could be to his advantage on Derby day. I also believe that we are unlikely to encounter that slow of a pace in the Derby with several front runners (including Uncle Mo, Soldat, and The Factor) amongst the probable starters.

I’m not overly into Beyer figures, but I do take them into consideration when looking at the over all picture and I am also somewhat encouraged by the fact that after “bouncing” with a 90 Beyer in that allowance race, Dialed In put up an improved 93 in winning the Florida Derby. Typically, Derby winners put in a huge run with a career-best Beyer in the triple digits, and with a previous 97 in the Holy Bull I think that this is definitely within Dialed In’s scope of talent.

Verdict: Contender

Apr
12
2011

Stay Thirsty at Churchill Downs

Stay Thirsty, one of Todd Pletcher’s charges and the third Derby hopeful to reach Churchill Downs, arrived from Florida on Thursday and was led off the van by assistant trainer assistant trainer Michael McCarthy.

Stay Thirsty

CREDIT: Reed Palmer Photography, Churchill Downs

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