06/17/2011 11:50AM

Churchill Downs: Santiva in regrouping stage

Barbara D. Livingston
Santiva ran eighth in the slop in the Belmont Stakes.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Santiva resumed training at Churchill Downs several days after another disappointing effort in the Belmont Stakes and will be pointed to “one of the appropriate spots” in the coming weeks, according to trainer Eddie Kenneally.

Santiva, a highly rated 3-year-old early this year after ending 2010 with a victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill and running second in his 2011 debut in the Risen Star Stakes in February, has finished off the board in his three subsequent starts: ninth as the 2-1 favorite in the Blue Grass, a decent sixth at 34-1 in the Kentucky Derby, and a distant eighth at 13-1 over a sloppy track in the Belmont last Saturday.

Kenneally said the Belmont was “majorly disappointing” but felt that Santiva, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, never had a real chance.

“Shaun came back and said that at no point did the colt ever feel comfortable, that it was just terrible trying to get him around there over that slop,” said Kenneally, who trains Santiva for Franklin, Ind., businessman Tom Walters. “We know the colt is much better than that, and the good news he’s already back training, feeling perfect. We don’t have anything definite for him in mind for now. We’ll take a look at what would fit our schedule for him and go from there.”

Santiva will move with the top Kenneally runners to Saratoga shortly after the Churchill spring meet ends July 4.

Stakes calendar in flux

The Stephen Foster undercard once included as many as five supporting stakes but has undergone considerable downsizing and revisions in recent years as an outgrowth of economics and other factors. Three Grade 3 races – the $100,000 Jefferson Cup, $125,000 Matt Winn, and $125,000 Regret – were the undercard events on the Foster card this year, with the longstanding Fleur de Lis Handicap, a Grade 2 event, conspicuous by its absence.

Churchill’s racing secretary, Ben Huffman, said more changes could be forthcoming for next year. Huffman said he is very concerned about how races such as the Oliver at Indiana Downs detracted from the Jefferson Cup and how the Pegasus at Monmouth Park and the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows have taken horses from the Matt Winn. Huffman already has cited a conflict with the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont as a primary reason for putting the Fleur de Lis on a one-year hiatus.

“We’re going to have to rethink Foster Day stakes purses hard for next year,” said Huffman.

Debutante attracts 18

The first stakes of the spring meet for 2-year-olds comes next Saturday, June 25, with the Grade 3, $100,000 Debutante for fillies. A number of flashy maiden winners are among the 18 fillies nominated to the six-furlong race, including Culotte, Five Star Momma, and Queen Teuta, along with Shocktime, already 2 for 2 after easily winning a restricted stakes at Lone Star Park for trainer Bret Calhoun.

For years, Churchill offered a stakes for 2-year-olds early in the meet (run under a variety of names) before the race was eliminated for this year. The male counterpart to the Debutante is the Grade 3, $100,000 Bashford Manor, which will be run here the following Saturday, July 2.


Valid Citizen eyes fourth win

Valid Citizen, the first three-time winner at the spring meet, could try to squeeze out a fourth victory before the meet comes to an end. A 6-year-old Kentucky-bred horse, Valid Citizen won $5,000 claiming sprints on April 30, May 19, and June 10, all with leading jockey Corey Lanerie aboard.

“He’s an honest horse, and we’ve really tried to pick our spots with him,” said Matt Kordenbrock, who trains Valid Citizen for Kenneth Dalton. “We’ve still got some time left” to try for a fourth.