Santiva Fights Off Favored Astrology, Major Gain To Make Kentucky Jockey Club His First Career Win

Nov 27, 2010 Gary Yunt

Tom Walters’ Santiva outgamed favored Astrology and Major Gain in a stretch-long duel to win the 84th running of the $165,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII) for 2-year-olds by a half-length on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.

Ridden for the first time by Shaun Bridgmohan, Santiva was content to sit just off the pace set by Prideofthechapter, who led the field of seven through fractions of  :24.29 and :49.03. Astrology, ridden by Garrett Gomez, tracked the leaders in third while Major Gain, ridden by Robby Albarado, raced in the next tier

Leaving the backstretch, Santiva took over from Prideofthechapter and was quickly joined by Astrology. At the head of the stretch, Albarado swung to the inside of Cane Garden Bay with Major Gain and cut to the rail to join the leaders.

The trio raced as a team to the wire with Santiva, a Kentucky-bred son of Giant’s Causeway out of the Smarten mare Slide, drawing away late to complete the distance on a fast main track in 1:45.31 to register his first victory in four starts. Astrology finished a head in front of Major Gain.

Now trained by Eddie Kenneally, Santiva increased his earnings to $195,254 with Saturday’s check of $100,254. Santiva had run second in his previous start, the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland on Oct. 9 and now has a record of 1-2-1.

Santiva returned $11.60, $4.20 and $2.80. Astrology returned $2.60 and $2.10 with Major Gain paying $2.40 to show. It was another 4 ½ lengths back to Halo’s Thunder, who was followed in order by Cane Garden Bay, Enable and Prideofthechapter.

The Fall Meet concludes Sunday with an 11-race program that begins at 12:40 p.m. (EST). Also Sunday, Churchill Downs will have a farewell ceremony for 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Mine That Bird, who has been retired from racing and will return to New Mexico on Monday. The ceremony will take place around the seventh race, which has a scheduled post time of 3:41 p.m. In addition, the first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a free 2011 Churchill Downs Wall Calendar presented by Humana. There also is a five-day Pick 6 carryover of $53,359 on races 6-11. There will be a mandatory payout.


Shaun Bridgmohan (jockey, Santiva, winner): “He showed effort today. I have known he is a nice little horse. He just ran a phenomenal race today. Every time I asked him for a little more, he just gave it to me. He kept grinding it out and fighting all the way to the wire. The more I asked the more he fought. It has been a very nice weekend.”

Eddie Kenneally (trainer, Santiva, winner): “He dug in and was courageous.  He ran awesome, really.  They came to him at the eighth pole and looked like they might even go by him.  They put him in a little tight, and that’s when he really fought back and he regained momentum and was drawing away from them at the wire.”

Q: Was his last race in the Breeders’ Futurity, in your eyes, even better than it might have looked …“He found himself very far back in his last race.  He didn’t break that day.  He broke sharp today.  He broke sharp today and put himself in the race early.  The jock didn’t put him in the race.  The horse wanted to run today.  He had running on his mind and got the job done.”

Q: It’s November and six months away there’s a very big race here.  Is he a legitimate  Kentucky Derby horse? “Oh sure, he’s got the pedigree.  There’s all the stamina in the world in his pedigree.  He’s got the profile for the race here in May.

Q: What was your thinking about running him on the dirt?  In his first race he was third on dirt, but was pretty soundly beaten before running back on grass and Polytrack in his next two starts.  Was there any worry about bringing him back to dirt?  “We knew going long that he’d be fine on the dirt, he’d have no problem going long on dirt.  He trains here and this is where we’re based, so this was a logical choice.”

Q. Is it exciting to think about bringing him back here (for the Derby) in six months with the way he ran today? “Absolutely.  That’s the goal, for sure.  “We’re excited about it.”

Q: Any thoughts on what your next step might be with him? “There some races in Florida with him this winter, so we’ll look at some of those and take it from there.  We’ll just give him a little break now and get him back to the races in January or February.  We’ll give him an easy time in December and focus on next year then.”

Garrett Gomez (jockey, Astrology, second): “I had a real good trip. I tried to let Shaun (Bridgmohan, jockey) carry me around. The one time my horse runs a mile and a sixteenth he comes off the bridle early on me. I tried to use Shaun as a target and he carried me. And when we decided to come home all the horses came home really well and I just got out-sprinted to the wire. I liked the way he ran today.”

Steve Asmussen (trainer, Astrology, second): “We’re disappointed he didn’t win under those circumstances, but he’s learning.  He’s distracted so easily by stuff.”

Q: His pedigree, being by A.P. Indy would indicate he’ll get better as he gets older … “We’ll see.  One thing I’ve figured out this year is nothing is guaranteed.”

Q: Did you lose any faith in him today?  Do you think he still has the potential to be a pretty good horse? “He’s got to put it together.  The competition is going to get better, so he’s got to get better.”

Wayne Catalano (trainer, Major Gain, third): “I’m happy with his performance. I would’ve liked to win, but he ran a big race. We’ll see how it goes from here.”

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