It's another important weekend of stakes racing with Kentucky Derby consequences. Three races will dish out points, The Gotham at Aqueduct, The Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs and the San Filipe Stakes at Santa Anita. All three are essentially win and you are in races, awarding the winner 50 points, 20 for second, 10 for third and 5 to finish the superfecta.
In an effort to get an edge, Horse Racing Radar analyzed current meet statistics to find track specific advantages for Saturday's stakes races. Here are our Santa Anita observations.
A pair or races, $75,000 China Doll Stakes and $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile are both 1 mile turf runs, as the name suggests. Meet to date, there have been 29 outings at the distance and surface. Being second or third at the quarter mile marker are the winning spots. Ten of the 29 to visit the winners circle ran second while eight were third. Meanwhile, just two managed to lead from gate to wire.
Numbers one and three have collected the most post position wins with five, right behind is the four with four. But overall, post position doesn't appear to provide a major advantage as most of the others have two or three wins. A nose here, a bob there and the stats could be different.
The profile of a Santa Anita, 1 mile turf winner: A horse that stalks the leader(s) and draws a post from five and in, preferably the 1, 3 or 5.
The San Carlos Stakes is 7 furlongs on dirt and there have been only eight of them during the current meet. Space data allows us to make general observations but not put full faith in them as trends. That being said, six of the eight winners were second, third of fourth at the first call, two for each. First and fifth scored one apiece for the remaining two.
Although we are dealing with a limited sample size, it does appear the tracks tilts towards the red 1, winning three of the first eight.
The estimated profile of a Santa Anita, 7 furlongs dirt winner: Leaves from the rail, lets a few horses clear, holding somewhere between second and fourth at the quarter-mile marker.
Dressed in the four, last year's Kentucky Derby winner AUTHENTIC won the San Felipe Stakes going the 1 1/16 miles wire to wire on the main track. Once again, we don't have a lot to work with, just four. One lead from beginning to the end like AUTHENTIC, two were third at the quarter mile marker and the other was fourth. Three of the four were leading as the headed into the stretch and the other was second. Three of the for trips to the winners' circle started from the rail (1x) and a two for the two.
The estimated profile of a Santa Anita, 1 1/16 miles dirt winner: A forwardly placed horse with an inside draw.
Understanding track biases for distance and surface is an important tool to have in your handicapping belt. Add it to your favorite angles and it could help horseplayers identify more winners. And that's the name of the game.
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