05/14/2013 3:51PM

Churchill Downs: Young rider Santana's rise continues

Tom Keyser
Ricardo Santana Jr. will try to continue his winning ways when he rides Livi Makenzie in Thursday's feature.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Ron Moquett was the first American trainer to “discover” Ricardo Santana Jr. That was at Delaware Park, where Santana initially worked as an underage groom and exercise rider for Moquett after coming to the United States from his native Panama.

Fast forward a few years, and Santana, now 20, has a couple of riding titles linked to his name. On Thursday at Churchill Downs, Moquett is hoping that being far ahead of that curve will translate into a bit of personal gain when Santana rides Livi Makenzie for him in the richest of nine races, a $57,000, third-level allowance at six furlongs.

“He’s a great kid,” Moquett said. “I’m really happy for him, the way his career has progressed.”

Santana was the runaway leader atop the jockey standings at the three-month Oaklawn Park meet that ended April 13. He rode 70 winners, adding the Oaklawn crown to the one he earned last year at the six-month Delaware meet.

Santana is riding regularly at Churchill for the first time and has three wins from his first 20 mounts. His business is beginning to pick up – he is named on four mounts Thursday at Churchill and seven Friday.

Santana and Livi Makenzie will break from post 1 when facing five other filly and mare sprinters in the nominal Thursday feature.

“Whoever she’s in against, they’re pretty good,” Moquett said. “At least that’s the way it’s always seemed to work out for her. You can go down her PPs and see all the good fillies she’s run against – Contested, Emma’s Encore, Applauding, Vuitton, Judy the Beauty – they’re all graded fillies.”

Livi Makenzie, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred chestnut filly by Macho Uno, is “a pretty nice filly in her own right,” Moquett said. “She ran an excellent race against Judy the Beauty last out at Keeneland. She’s done real well since then, and we’re hoping to get a win with her Thursday.”

Same Cross (post 6, Rosie Napravnik) is the 8-5 morning-line choice after going 3 for 3 to open her career this winter at Fair Grounds. Her two subsequent starts resulted in off-the-board finishes, but one was on turf and the other was in the slop in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff.

◗ There are small carryover jackpots Thursday after Indisputable, a 16-1 shot, won the final race Sunday. The $1 super high five (race 9) has a $26,675 carryover, and the $2 pick six (races 4-9) starts with $8,121 in the pool.