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Race of the Week: $100K Cinema Stakes at Santa Anita | Saturday, June 4, 2022

by Jeremy Plonk

June 2, 2022

The Lead:
While we await the 3-year-olds at Belmont next week to close the Triple Crown, sophomore turfers are tested Saturday in the $100,000 Cinema at Santa Anita. It's part of a dual-stakes card that also includes filly and mare dirt sprinters in the G3 Desert Stormer. The Cinema goes as Race 7 of 9 and will be part of the late pick 4 and pick 5 sequences.

​Field Depth:
CABO SPIRIT is a listed stakes winner and G3-placed. BALNIKHOV is G2-placed. The others are making class rises. BALNIKHOV and CABO SPIRIT have a decided edge in terms of class.

BEEF WINSLOW could make the lead in a race without a defined pace. CABO SPIRIT and WAR AT SEA are capable if their riders are intent on the front. RED ROAD shouldn't be too far off it, while BALNIKHOV tries to track them down likely from last of 5 early.

Our Eyes:
French import BALNIKHOV fits the profile for trainer Phil D'Amato, who has mastered taking modest Europeans to California success at higher levels. BALNIKHOV was well-enough thought of to tackle Churchill's G2 American Turf on the Kentucky Derby undercard, and made a winning move before finishing second to Stolen Base. The addition of blinkers should put some late focus into such a move if repeated. Leading pilot Juan Hernandez has the controls on the obvious favorite and horse to beat.

CABO SPIRIT has tested the best 3-year-olds on the grounds at Santa Anita all season. He ventured for a couple of synthetic bids at Turfway and Golden Gate to no avail, but should be back home on grass where he won the Eddie Logan. He's got more tactical speed than BALNIKHOV and jockey Joe Bravo is coming off a good week as was red-hot trainer George Papaprodromou {14: 5-3-0 (36%, $2.67 ROI) // $5, $7, $8, $26, $28 winners, including G2 Triple Bend}.

WAR AT SEA has won 2 straight turf miles and makes his stakes debut for a Ron Ellis barn that's sighted as often as bigfoot, but dangerous when spotted. The faster the pace, the better this one has run; the fear is that 9F will have a flatter pace and not give WAR AT SEA the kind of set-up he's gotten of late.

RED ROAD pulled a 15-1 upset over 2-1 BEEF WINSLOW in a May allowance prep over this 9-furlong trip. Both are bred to handle the distance, but the running style and past performances give RED ROAD the distance edge. The addition of blinkers and Lasix last time helped move up RED ROAD.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
BALNIKHOV is a legit favorite and will come on strong at the end.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
None projected.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
Let's ride the hot hand for a minor upset. $75 exacta CABO SPIRIT over BALNIKHOV; $25 exacta BALNIKHOV over CABO SPIRIT.