Friday, May 6, 2011

A Derby Longshot You Shouldn't Ignore...

--Steve Sherack

Looking for a live longshot in the most exciting two minutes in sports? How about Santiva at 30-1, or maybe even higher?

The son of Giant’s Causeway, trained by Eddie Kenneally, is the only Derby entrant to boast a graded stakes victory beneath the Twin Spires (following the late scratch of juvenile champ Uncle Mo), gamely prevailing in last November’s GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. (TDN Video). Sitting a stalking trip throughout in that one, Santiva took over at the head of affairs and showed plenty of character and determination while racing in tight quarters between rivals in the stretch to eke out a half-length victory, earning his diploma in the process.

Given the remainder of his juvenile season off, Santiva returned with a strong runner-up effort after a wide trip in the GII Risen Star S. Feb. 19 (TDN Video). Placed within striking distance, the bay looked like a winner after gaining a narrow lead in the Fair Grounds stretch, but couldn’t quite stay with Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno) late, who already had the benefit of a prep race under his belt in Gulfstream’s GIII Holy Bull S. Jan. 30.

Last year’s GI Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity runner-up had the respect of the Keeneland faithful for his next trip to post, getting sent off as the 2-1 favorite while facing 11 rivals in the GI Blue Grass S. Apr. 16, but never got going after racing in traffic throughout beneath Julien Leparoux, and reported home a lackluster ninth.

If you can forgive Santiva for that troubled effort over the Polytrack and focus on his two previous starts on dirt, the Tom Walters colorbearer certainly looks like he belongs with this evenly-matched group. He has the pedigree to negotiate 10 furlongs, sports a favorable running style, drew kindly on the outside, and, at a very generous morning-line quote, the risk certainly seems to be worth the reward. Reuniting with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who was aboard during his Kentucky Jockey Club score, can't hurt either.

While it’s not much of a secret who my pick is for the GI Kentucky Oaks if you’ve been following the TDN Staff Blog at all, I'll be using a handful of others in addition to Joyful Victory (Tapit) in hopes of being alive with Santiva for a big payday in the Oaks/Derby double. Good luck everybody!

1 comment:

The_Knight_Sky said...

Good point. A similar case could be made for Soldat. Those two are preferred over six other three year olds who do not even have a single victory on the dirt.

Can you blame many critics for stating the obvious....this field is a forgettable one?

Uncle Mo is scratched out at 9/2 making Mike Battalgia's erroneous Morning Line even more skewed as of Friday morning. If it were up to me, I'd scratch the sextet without a dirt victory too. :D