by Brian Nadeau
January 24, 2018
So, you thought the $16 million Pegasus World Cup was the only thing happening this weekend at Gulfstream Park, eh? Think again.
While the eyes of the racing world will no doubt be focused on the second World Cup Saturday, and the career finale of the Hall of Fame-bound Gun Runner, the eyes of the handicapping world will double back Sunday, when the Rainbow 6 has a mandatory payout. With a carryover of almost $3.2 million entering Wednesday’s card, it’s quite possible that number will approach $5 million come Sunday. Which in turn could blow it up to three times when the dust finally settles. Point being, Gulfstream is certainly the place to be this weekend.
As for the Pegasus itself, the second running dwarfs the first in terms over overall quality. Sure, the Arrogate-California Chrome matchup got a ton of people interested, but the reality is that the rest of the field, aside from Shaman Ghost, was littered with listed stakes types who had no business being in such a race. This year, while Gun Runner is a deserving odds-on proposition, there are countless other options if you’re hoping to send him off to retirement with a defeat.
Bob Baffert ships in West Coast and Collected, who ran 2-3 behind Gun Runner in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and both have a right to hit hard. The freakish miler Sharp Azteca will try to stretch his speed to 1 1/8 miles and could get very brave over a track that has been known to cater to his speedy style. Stellar Wind is a multiple grade I winning mare making her first start for Chad Brown. Gunnevera loves the local circuit and will benefit from a race filled with a ton of early speed. Toast of New York was once second in the Classic and returned from over a three-year layoff with a win. Seeking the Soul enters off a grade I win and has never been better, plus is another who will love all the pace. Even Giant Expectations enters off a breakthrough stakes win and adds more speed to the party.
Point being, while Gun Runner is obviously the most likely winner, he’s not the lock the toteboard will tell you he is, especially after drawing very poorly in the 10-hole, as there’s a ridiculously short run to the first turn. And while last year, it may have been en vogue to try and beat Arrogate and California Chrome, there was only a fleeting chance, at best, based on the competition. This year, the competition has legitimate, worthy upsetters.
As for the Rainbow 6, love it or hate it, it has drawn a ton of interest to Gulfstream over the past few years and we’ve seen countless times on mandatory payout days that the public loves to fire. Sure, I may be a little ambitious with the $16 million-$16 million headline, there’s little doubt it will comfortably pass $10 million, and with a lot of heavy hitters in town and playing aggressively on what will be an awesome Saturday, stakes-laden card, you know darn well they’ll stick around Sunday with a chance at a monumental score.
While the actual sequence is yet to be determined, nor has the card been drawn, it’s clear there will be countless low-level turf races filled to the maximum of 12 horses. Even the chalkiest of winners will pay handsomely, when you’re talking about an eight-figure pool, but if you can get just one price in there, you’ll be rally onto something. And if you get a few more, well, you may be looking at paying off your mortgage.
I’ve repeatedly advocated playing small tickets when the Rainbow carryover gets up there, but that goes completely out the window on a mandatory day. I’ll be amping up my play significantly, and really taking the rubber band off my bankroll. When you’re talking about an eight-figure pool, and a payout that could be life-changing, you fire, and you fire big.
I hope to see you all at Gulfstream this weekend, and that you pick some mighty fast horses along the way. Enjoy!