04/24/2008 12:00AM

Santana Strings comfortable on Polytrack


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The much-traveled Santana Strings, who has run at 15 different tracks during his 34-race career, will make his first start on Woodbine's Polytrack in Saturday's $150,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes.

Santana Strings, a 6-year-old trained by Steve Asmussen, won the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes as a 3-year-old. He ran the race of his life three starts ago at Gulfstream when second in the Sunshine Millions Sprint behind Benny the Bull, who is arguably the world's leading sprinter.

Most recently, on April 11, Santana Strings recorded the 11th runner-up finish of his career, in a $100,000 optional claimer at Aqueduct. His last victory came in an Oct. 18 optional claimer on the Polytrack at Keeneland.

"He's faced some top-notch competition," said assistant trainer Steve Flint. "He's never run two bad ones in a row. He's been over the Polytrack before. He knows what it is."

Flint was content with Santana Strings's half-mile breeze in 51.60 seconds here Monday.

"It was just to get him familiar with the track," Flint said. "He didn't need a hard work, because he just ran. It was an excellent move. We're very pleased with him. He's adapted quickly. The weather was pretty similar to where he came from, so it was an easy transition for him."

The six-furlong event also has lured the first three finishers from the allowance prep for the race - Legal Move, Ballado Dancer, and Prince Atlantis. Legal Move captured the 5 1/2-furlong prep with a wide rally. He is also eligible for the May 10 New Providence, a stakes for Ontario-sired sprinters.

Ballado Dancer led until deep stretch in the prep and was beaten a half-length in his first start since his heartbreaking loss in the Grade 3 Kennedy Road Stakes in November.

"I think he needed his first race," said owner-trainer Marko Mesic. "He might have been short one work. Nothing really worked out the way I planned. I thought I was going to have three works into him, but I missed the first one because the track was pretty bad."

Mesic said he was pleased with Ballado Dancer's half-mile work in 48.80 seconds on the training track last Saturday. "He worked very good," he said. "He galloped out five-eighths in 1:01. I think he's in pretty good shape. He's going into this race much better."