by Johnny D
January 7, 2022
Heading into Gulfstream’s Friday afternoon card, the Rainbow Six pot was guaranteed at $1.3 million. That’s a nice chunk of change worth chasing. But, wait, there’s more: One day later, on Saturday, there will be a mandatory payout of the entire Rainbow Six pool and, providing no single winning ticket is generated Friday, the cement pond ought to be overflowing with about $5 million in dead presidents. A good chuck of that $5 million actually will be dead money—in other words, bread you can win but that doesn’t represent tickets that can beat you or share in any payoff. It’s a sweet deal that’s only offered when racetracks periodically ‘empty the carryover trash.’
Of course, the huge black fly in the ointment is that in order to share in the fruits of a massive Rainbow Six pinata popping, a player first must pick six consecutive winners. That ain’t easy. I know. I’ve tried. Often. On the other hand, I’ve also sometimes been successful at the challenge and have polished off a few refreshing ‘six-packs’ over the years—both while wagering on the races and while watching a ballgame.
Below is one man’s humble analysis of Gulfstream’s Saturday Rainbow Six with a race overview followed by top contenders. Constructing a winning ticket is your job. Use what’s suggested below or, like with grandma’s Sunday gravy recipe, add or subtract ingredients according to taste (or, in this case, budget).
Xpressbet’s popular and profitable $60k Beat the Host competition also begins Saturday with Gulfstream races 6 through 10 and there are several reasons for you to engage:
First, it’s not all that difficult to qualify for the $15k Championship Round on March 12. Just beat a host’s total once in eight weekly challenges and you’re qualified to compete for a seat in the 2023 Pegasus World Cup Betting Challenge and six spots to either Florida Derby or Santa Anita Derby tournaments!
Second, there’s $2k in weekly prizes to top players--$1,000 to first; $750 to second and $250 to third.
Third, $22,500 is up for grabs in Cumulative Seasonal Prizes. Those include 2 Pegasus World Championship seats and three spots in the Ultimate Betting Challenge! Don’t dare miss a chance to add to your seasonal Beat the Host total earnings.
Beat the Host registration is mandatory and FREE and players must make a single, live $5 Win wager on one horse in each of 10 mandatory races ($50 total). Since competition wagers are ‘live’ a nice-priced winner or two will easily pay for the afternoon’s entertainment. Competition races are posted on the Xpressbet web site by 5 pm each Friday.
Xpressbet blogger and handicapper Jeremy Plonk will serve as initial host to beat and will be followed by XBTV’s Millie Ball. A complete list of dates, hosts and additional Beat the Host information, including registration, is available on the web site under the Tournaments tab.
(Beat the Host Begins)
Let’s kick off a possible $5 million Rainbow Six mandatory payout and the $60k Beat the Host 2022 season with a toughie. Players can go several ways in this one mile and one-sixteenth grass event for $35k non-winners of 2 claimers. Below we’ve listed 7 possible inclusions on Rainbow Six tickets hoping to make it past the first leg. Disclaimer Alert! Generally, when we use 5 or more runners in one leg of a multi-race wager, the favorite usually wins. Happens to you, too? Guess that’s just the way racing works. The good news is that Rainbow Six players can have a look at the toteboard before submitting tickets.
#2 Rally Squirrel is a lightly-raced 4-year-old who’s been favored in his last 2—a state-bred Maiden $40 and a $30k non-winners of 2, both at Aqueduct. The win came in wire-to-wire fashion over 11 foes. Note: #3 Tackle outran this one last out.
#3 Tackle is a 5-year-old with just 1 win out of 9 starts. He’s got 4 seconds and added to that total last out when runner-up in a $30k non-winners of 2. He races from off the pace and will be making a first Gulfstream start for 16% overall trainer Mike Maker, who’s been cold at the current meeting. Gaffalione rides and they’re 19% together.
#4 Caribbean Gold is a 5-year-old with just 1 win in 12 starts. He has some speed. Low-profile connections of trainer Dibona and jockey Reyes are a notable 26% together (46 mounts). This guy was a lukewarm 5/2 favorite last out at this level and was claimed. The trainer is just 10% first off of a claim. Last out was this guy’s first Gulfstream start since April. He won a Maiden $40k race at Saratoga and was a close third at this level at Aqueduct.
#5 Propensity is a 6-year-old wire-to-wire threat. He stretches out to this distance for the first time and has just one win in 14 previous starts. He was claimed at this level three back by trainer Kimmel and was well behind #3 Tackle in a November Belmont turf sprint. He ran well here in a Maiden race at a mile on turf last year, so maybe the distance will be kind to him?
#7 Savoy dips in class to his lowest career level and switches to turf for an initial try over the surface. He’s just 1 for 6, so he hasn’t quite proven he’s a capable loser. The 4-year-old has split starts between New York and Kentucky and is a new Gulfstream face. In a race with lots of question marks perhaps this is the answer?
#8 Maker of an Empire is a lightly raced 5-year-old that attracts top jock Luis Saez for 17% trainer Mark Casse. The duo combines to win at 14%. If you’ve been playing Gulfstream this meeting, you know ignoring mounts ridden by Saez is hazardous to mutuel ticket health. He’s winning at a torrid 28%. This gelding had been away since March before a poor try going one mile here Dec. 8. He was fractious at the gate that afternoon at 6-1 odds. Saez takes over for Alvarado, who is open in the race. Why would the Casse barn recruit the meet’s top rider to pilot a fractious horse who was sixth of nine last out at the level? Normally, just the jock switch wouldn’t be enough to interest us. However, this race is a mess and we’ll use all the angles we can find.
#9 Holy Emperor finished in front of #8 Maker of an Empire last out and was about the same price on the tote board. That was his first start since Sept. He’s 1 for 18 overall and 0-2 over Gulf turf, so he isn’t quite as attractive as his neighbor. Saez either abandons this one or was replaced to ride #8 Maker of an Empire. Top jock Irad Ortiz, who was aboard for this gelding’s only win, is recruited to ride for 11% trainer Antonio Sano.
Least Raced of 1-fers: #2, #7, #8
Maybe: #4, #5, #9
(Beat the Host Competition Race)
It’s difficult to win first-time out going more than six furlongs and as the distances increase the odds of a first-time starter winning grow too. Of course, that analysis applies to mere mortal trainers. Guys like Baffert, Pletcher, Brown, Cox, etc. are solid at just about any first-out handicapping angle you want to discuss. Pletcher’s got a pair of first-time starters in here and they’ve got to draw attention. Which one’s better going one mile at Gulfstream on Jan. 8? Don’t know, so I’ll probably use both.
#2 Charge is a Tapit son from the Pletcher outfit with a steady 6-7 day workout routine, including a best-of-12 one minute move at Palm Beach Downs. Top jock Saez rides and he and Pletcher are a fantastic 28% together. Pletcher’s batting at an incredible 47% at the current meeting. Go ahead and submit a ticket without him; I dare ya.
#6 Calipari is the other Pletcher runner in here and he’s to be ridden by perennial Gulfstream Championship Meet top jock Irad Ortiz. He and Pletcher combine to win at 26%. Like stablemate #2 Charge, this son of Curlin has been working steadily at Palm Beach Downs. If you’re into splitting hairs, this guy’s work tab doesn’t seem as steady as his stablemate but there’s not much difference. How’d you feel is you used one Pletcher and the other ended up beating you? Thought so.
#9 Trending is a first-time starter for a guy who doesn’t often win first out. Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey recruits local hustling pilot Paco Lopez to guide this son of Uncle Mo off a series of steady Gulfstream Park works, including a couple of bullets and a notable 5-furlong gate move Jan. 2. Lopez and Shug connect at 33% in 12 joint efforts.
#10 Volcanic is a fourth-time starter for Mark Casse who hasn’t been out since Sept. 6. This one was beaten less than 2 lengths first-out at Churchill, was third, beaten a head at Saratoga and seventh from the rail in the Gr. 1 Hopeful, also at the Spa. Resume and video review suggest this guy can run and Casse adds blinkers for this return to the races. He’s put himself in difficult positions by dropping back during the middle stages of races and then coming with a late charge. Blinkers might just do the trick to keep him involved throught and he should love the mile distance. If accurate, this one boasts an unusual training schedule with moves at Churchill, the Casse training center, Gulfstream and Palm Meadows. Why so many different locations? 20% winning jock Gaffalione rides and he’s 15% with Casse.
Two Pletchers are Better Than One: #2, #6
Possible Eruption: #10
(Beat the Host Competition Race)
The one mile, Grade 3 Tropical Turf has attracted just 7 runners. This probably is where most Rainbow Six players will look to slim tickets. #1 Largent, named for NFL Hall of Fame former Seahawks wide receiver, looms a single. Based on comments in a Gulfstream press release, I was looking to attempt to beat the 6-year-old coming off a one-year layoff even though this challenging Rainbow Six sequence requires a ‘single’ as desperately as a human needs air.
#1 Largent is a 6-year-old returning from a nearly one-year layoff and figures to be a heavy favorite in here. While it’s foolish to attempt to go through life wagering against Todd Pletcher runners, it seemed that this might be the right time to attempt to beat Largent. Eclipse managing partner Aron Wellman said, “I’d be lying to you if I said we thought we had him 100 percent cranked up off such a long layoff but this race is coming up in such a way that the timing is right and the distance is probably right to get him going.” Trainer Todd Pletcher said, “We felt like we’re cutting it a little close in terms of how cranked up he is, but with this race being three weeks before the Pegasus Turf it could put us in a position to have some options, so we decided to give it a go.” Okay, we’ve got a 6-year-old coming off a one-year layoff at a short price and connections are saying he’s not 100% ready to fire. That’s the time to take a shot, no?
Trouble is, not only is Largent a pro with 6 wins and 4 seconds in 10 career starts, he loves GP turf with all 4 wins and 2 seconds here. He’s got 2 wins and 1 second at the distance, too. Tough to go against those stats. Toss in Pletcher’s outstanding 47% batting average at the current meet, jockey Saez’s 28% winning mark and the duo’s powerful 28% winning combo percentage and you’ve got statistical overload in Largent’s favor—layoff or not.
#4 Value Proposition also is a 6-year-old with a sparkling overall record (6-13) and at the distance (3-6). Trainer Brown is a sterling 23% overall but is struggling early in this meet at 0-10 with 4 seconds. Irad Ortiz is aboard and he and Brown are a sterling 23%. This will be the ridgeling’s first Gulfstream appearance.
(Beat the Host Competition Race)
It’s time for an old fashioned six-furlong sprint race for state-breds who are non-winners of a race or available for a $12,5k claiming price. Rainbow Six players may be able to hurdle this heat by using just a few runners. A couple of these come off sharp efforts and one or two offer other positive angles.
#1 Mish starts for the dangerous Joseph stable (24% this meet) and the 5-year-old gelding will be ridden by Irad Ortiz (23% in 2021). Together they’re a punishing 42%. That alone could be enough for some to include this guy. He broke maiden two back for $40k over a sloppy track. Joseph took over training off that win and the gelding showed speed and stopped abruptly in a $50k starter race at Churchill in November. A return to the Gulfstream main track, where he has a win and a second in 2 tries, in a race against lesser starting second time for Joseph, could be magic.
#6 Dop Wop Don has won 3 in a row and has been claimed out of three of his last four starts. Two of those were $6,250 claiming races for non-winners of 2 and then 3. This is a step up in competition but there’s no disputing the fact that Dop Wop Don loves Gulfstream (10-10 in the money), the distance (5 of 6 first or second) and attracts money (favored in his last 4 and 5 of last 6). He mainly comes from off the pace and may find running down better foes a challenge. Top jock Saez rides first time for 1-13 at the meet trainer Mary Eppler.
#7 Raise the Rent went wire-to-wire in winning a $35 claimer non-winners of 2. That effort fits well in here. This 4-year-old gelding has 2 wins in 4 starts—both at Gulfstream at this distance. He was claimed last out by Kelly Breen (11% off the claim). Raise the Rent tried this class level before unsuccessfully, but that was after he was fractious and broke open the starting. On better behavior he should be the one to beat.
#8 Twice too Many is a 4-year-old gelding that just missed at this level last out. Unfortunately, he’s made finishing second an art, with 6 such placings in 10 starts. A repeat of his last at 6 furlongs instead of 5 will be good enough to win this. He romped two back when breaking maiden here over a sloppy track. He’s got speed and should use it under Lopez, who got to know him last time. Claimed 3 back by Crichton, his best career races have been his last 2.
Ones to Beat: #7, #8
Sharp, Up: #6
Drop to Pop: #1
(Beat the Host Competition Race)
First level allowance/optional 25k claiming races often are won by lightly raced runners moving up the ladder. #6 Sprout Wings seems to fit that profile. He’s been gone since September, so taking a few backups in here makes sense. 6 of 10 starter come out of a common Dec. 11 race.
#3 We Miss Susie dominated many of these with a perfect rail trip under Alvarado at about 9/2. Don’t know if connections can count on similar good fortune. ‘Susie is 3 for 7 at Gulfstream and a strong 5 for 7 at the distance and 5 for 17 overall—great stats. Maybe she won’t need a perfect trip to repeat her top effort, after all.
#4 Awesome Annmarie did not distinguish herself in the common Dec. 11 race when beating just one foe home at contender’s odds of just over 5-1. Poor races are the exception for her since she’s won 4 of 10 overall starts, 4 of 9 at GP and 3 of 6 at the distance and last out was her first since August. Her late running style leaves her much to do in the lane and most of her success has come against lesser. She finished nearly 4 lengths behind #6 Sprout Wings in August.
#5 Psychic Ability moves to the potent Joseph stable and gets Irad Ortiz for this first race since June. With 2 wins in 8 starts and never starting for a tag this one fits the winning profile for this type of race. The 4-year-old filly’s work schedule includes a trio of nice 5 furlong breezes, one out of the gate. She seems ready to fire a good shot and that will put her in the mix. She comes from off the pace.
#6 Sprout Wings has good speed and a win at this level two back on her resume. She’s won 3 races from 4 starts, all at Gulfstream Park and is 1 for 2 at the distance. The filly was offered for a $35k tag in her last start in September, a win. Now she’s discounted down to $25k. Why? A lightly raced filly with her record for $25k seems too good to be true. Her trainer is having an unlucky meeting this far with 0 wins, 0 seconds and 4 thirds out of 9 starts.
#7 Wild America retains top jock Saez off a runner-up effort in the common Dec. 11 heat at this level. She showed her usual speed and couldn’t hold off #3 We Miss Susie in the final stage. That was this filly’s best race of her 5-race career and her first at Gulfstream and first since Oct 4.
#9 World Gone By is a 4-year-old filly with some things to like. She’s won 4 of 15 races with 3 seconds and 3 of 11 at Gulfstream. She just 2 of 10 over fast dirt, however, and she’s moving up in class for this. Note: Jockey Gonzalez, who’s won with her the last 3 times he’s ridden her, is aboard #1 My Destiny. This filly’s a bit of a reach.
Top Line: #3, #5, #6
Bottom Line: #4, #7
If you make it this far in the Rainbow Six, well done. You’ve got one more hurdle to clear to make your ticket worth something instead of absolutely nothing. Fun game, ain’t it? Hope you’ve done something else with the 5 winners you’ve had before now. This finale is a combo event that includes Florida-breds for no tag against any-other-breds for $50k. It’s a way of matching Florida-breds against $50k claimers without risking Sunshine-state breds for a tag. There are a couple of interesting class droppers by hot trainers that should attract the majority of the wagering attention in here.
#7 Gooch Go Bragn is a Kentucky-bred son of Distorted Humor trying the $50k level for the first time. That guy Pletcher is the trainer and Irad Ortiz the jock. They’re dynamite together. Blinkers go on and so does Lasix, both strong moves for Pletcher. This one has started four times without success but only one of them was in a maiden turf race and that was first-time out when second by less than 3 lengths. Next they tried the Gr. 3 With Anticipation at Saratoga with no luck. Next was an off-the-turf disaster at Keeneland followed by a Dec. 19 return over synthetics. Back to turf for this against maidens seems like a cherry spot. They’ve finally given up on this one being a star.
#9 Charming Charlie is a Ky-bred with just two previous starts for trainer Clement (6 for 17 at the meeting) and jockey Gaffalione—27% together. Both of his races came at Aqueduct—first out in the mud and the next on the turf Dec. 5. A repeat of the latter race would make him tough in here and the tote board should reflect that.
Logical Duo: #7, #9