Just one stakes race with prize money of $100,000 or more on this Sunday's schedule. Owners and trainers are saving their racing powder for the Memorial Day weekend and Belmont Stakes in two weeks.
The "World's Most Beautiful Track", Santa Anita hosts the $100,000 Cinema Stakes in the seventh race on Sunday's card. A handful of three-year-olds will run 1 1/8 miles on the turf course. It's an odd-shaped race as it starts on the backside turn. The field will have to turn a little before heading onto the front stretch for the first time.
Despite looking like it might be a disadvantage for insider draws as the outside posts have a straighter line to the front stretch, the distance and surface has not played that way. Win rates are similar from the inside to out for the first 32 starts at the distance meet to date. Running styles are evenly split with 16 speed winners and 16 off the pace winners.
In other words, the best horse usually wins and is not aided by track biases.
Let's run down the field to see which is the best horse.
AIRMAN (PP: 1 ML 3-1) just broke his maiden in his sixth try. He came from off the pace, as he has in all of his starts. He has a decent Santa Anita line with a win, place and show in four starts. However, his late pace numbers are a tad lower than some of the other stalkers/closers.
SWORD ZORO (PP: 2 ML 5/2) is making his third US start after beginning his career in Ireland. Like many international invaders, his first trip in the States didn't go so well. However, he came back to win his last race with a big move in the second half of a 1 mile race. The extra 1/8 mile should work to his advantage.
JIMMY IRISH (PP: 3 ML 5-1) is on of two speed horses in the field of five. He's making the switch from Golden Gate's all-weather track to Santa Anita turf. Many jockeys have told the Player's Edge Podcast that all-weather horses tend to fare better on grass than natural dirt. If JIMMY IRISH's form holds in the surface swap, he could be on/near the lead all the way around the track.
HUBRIS (PP: 4 ML 9/5) ins the other speed horse but might be co-pilot here. His lone win came in a wire-to-wire score in a Maiden Claiming $80,000 race. Last time out, he ran second all the way around the track but have up some ground late. He could do the same if JIMMY IRISH keeps him to task from gate to wire.
HUDSON RIDGE (PP: 5 ML 7/2) is the in between horse. He'll be in between the two speed horses and the two closers. He has yet to win a race in his first four starts. He last race was his best finish and only time to hit the board, finishing second at the wire by a head-bob. His problem has been running a complete race. He's had a brilliant first halves and second halves, but never put them together.
Our Pick as the best horse in the Cinema Stakes.
SWORD ZORO should be better in his third US start and second following a short rest. The three-year-old looks to be getting better race to race and should be able to run them down late.