King Congie and Wilkinson put in ther final major works for the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass; Santiva has arrived in Lexington; and other preparations continued for the race.
King Congies worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:00.60 on his own and with jockey Rajiv Maragh up. He reeled off fractions of :12.80, :24.60, :36.20, :48.80 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.20.
“Everything went according to plan,” Maragh said. “He seemed like he handled the track fine.”
The Toyota Blue Grass will mark the first race on Polytrack for King Congie, who won his first two starts on turf and was disqualified out of a third victory in his most recent start in the Hallandale Beach on Feb. 6 at Gulfstream Park.
Monday’s work also reunited Maragh with King Congie, whom he last rode six months ago under different circumstances. The October race was a 51/2-furlong sprint on dirt. King Congie was being pointed to the Grade III Vinery Racing Spiral, but he was scratched.
“He had a strained hind muscle that we noticed the day before the race,” said Terry Finley, president of West Point Thoroughbreds. “We thought he would run well there. After that, our options were the Blue Grass or the Lexington, but the Blue Grass is $750,000.”
King Congie has no graded stakes earnings, and the $450,000 winner’s check of the Toyota Blue Grass would put him in the starting gate for the May 7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). First place in the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington would be worth $120,000, probably not enough to make the Derby this year.
King Congie is trained by Tom Albertrani, who had another potential Toyota Blue Grass starter work today in Brilliant Speed. Owned by the Live Oak Plantation, Brilliant Speed worked a half-mile in :51.00 over a fast track at Palm Meadows in Florida.
In other Toyota Blue Grass news, Wilkinson, sixth in his most recent start in the Grade II Louisiana Derby, worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 over a fast track at Churchill Downs for trainer Neil Howard.
At Keeneland today, Crimson China galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Leo Molina; Willcox Inn jogged a little more than a mile under Freddy Alvarado, accompanied by a pony; and James Covello and Swift Warrior jogged one lap and galloped twice around on the training track with Eliel DeJesus up.
Trainer John Terranova’s plans for Swift Warrior called for a work on the turf course Tuesday, but forecasted heavy rain beginning Monday afternoon could scuttle any grass action in the morning.
“I’ve got a day to play with, and I don’t have to do too much with him,” Terranova said of Swift Warrior, who won the Rushaway at Turfway Park in his Polytrack debut. “Training at Palm Meadows gets them pretty fit. He has run well on dirt and turf in Florida, and the big question with him was the Polytrack and how would he handle it.”
A late addition to the prospective field is Clarke Lane. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Clarke Lane was a fast-closing second in his U.S. debut on April 3 at Santa Anita. The son of Giant’s Causeway raced in England as a 2-year-old.
Clarke Lane is scheduled to arrive at Keeneland on Tuesday from Southern California along with a handful of other horses pointing to upcoming stakes. Among those scheduled to arrive Tuesday are Evening Jewel (Grade I Vinery Madison), Éclair de Lune (GER), (Grade II Jenny Wiley), Turbulent Descent and Home Sweet Aspen (Grade II Beaumont), and Kinsale King (Grade III Shakertown).
Santiva Returns to Keeneland
Santiva, second in the Grade I Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at the track last October, returned to Keeneland yesterday. The experience the Giant’s Causeway colt has over the course was among the factors in the decision to race him in the Blue Grass, said trainer Eddie Kenneally.
“I think it’s a good choice for this horse,” he said.
After the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, in which he was saddled by Todd Pletcher, Santiva won the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs in his first start for Kenneally. The colt has 240,254 in graded stakes earnings and could achieve a comfort level with additional winnings in the Blue Grass.
“I think he could have a very good 3-year-old year,” Kenneally said. “He’s matured, strengthened up, and mentally he’s very, very good.”
On Saturday, Santiva turned in his final work for the Toyota Blue Grass, working five furlongs at Kenneally’s winter base Palm Meadows in Florida, where Brendan Walsh oversees the string. The colt was clocked in a minute flat for the move. Julien Leparoux will ride Santiva in the Toyota Blue Grass.
The post position draw for the Blue Grass will be held Wednesday at 11:30 ET in the Limestone Cafe of the Keeneland Sales Pavilion. TVG will provide live coverage.
--Edited track notes with additional content by Dick Downey