If everything comes together, that is to say there's not a lone winner of the Rainbow 6 on Saturday, May 24 or Sunday, May 25 at Gulfstream Park, the May 26 Gulfstream card figures to be the focus of horseplayers throughout the world.
The track has designated Monday (Memorial Day) as a mandatory payout day of the jackpot wager, which has surpassed the $6 million mark. The track believes it will easily reach eight figures by the time the first race of the wager, race 5, begins at about 4:05 p.m. EDT.
Gulfstream and the horsemen have worked to fill the fields for the six races in the wager. Some initial handicapping thoughts from staff writer Frank Angst follow.
Race 5, maiden special weight, 3YO&Up, 1 1/16 miles, turf
Pick: Simon Bar Sinister
My pick to win the opener has shown speed on dirt and should improve with move to turf. Note that connections tried to run him on turf last time but race was moved to the main track. Not only do you get sire War Front but the dam has produced four winners from five starters and she's a half sister to Man From Wicklow, a grade I winner on the Gulfstream turf.
Of note: If you're counting on examining some recent form on the Gulfstream turf, you won't find it here. Only four of the 11 horses entered have ever started on the local lawn, and only one of those four made their previous start on the grass at Gulfstream. Steel N Pack qualifies for a jockey angle I like to play; I'll likely include him on ticket.
Race 6, maiden special weight, F&M, 3YO&Up, 6 1/2 furlongs
In this instance, three straight second-place finishes are more encouraging than a concern. After a failed debut on turf, Pekinesa just missed earning her maiden score in a pair of claiming races. Moved to a maiden special weight race, she again competed well before ultimately finishing second in a race where she was bumped in the stretch. Of the previous starters, she's one of the few to show early speed.
Of note: Three of the 11 horses entered are first-time starters and all three of them have positives on bottom of pedigree. I'm not feeling a single here and likely will have to include all three newbies.
Race 7, allowance-optional claiming, 3YO&Up, 1 1/16 miles, turf
Pick: Joes Blazing Aaron
I thought this year's Pan American Stakes (gr. IIT) was strong and this was not a day that speed was carrying on the Gulfstream Park turf. I have high marks for the fourth-place finish by Joes Blazing Aaron after his usual early speed in that race. Granted, it's been a while since his most recent win but I'm thinking he finally rates just a bit here and carries his speed to the wire.
Of Note: There are several horses with a lot of class in this field. If I decide to go deep here, I'll likely play them and leave off the horses stepping up. If I end up singling Joes Blazing Aaron I certainly won't be launching any early celebrations if he's leading in the stretch.
Race 8, conditional claiming race, F&M, 3YO&Up, 6 furlongs
Pick: Sweet Kaleah
Horses with a closing running style who race at this level rarely get enough horses with early speed to ensure a fast pace, which can prove quite the challenge especially at an often speed-favoring track like Gulfstream Park. Sweet Kaleah should see a strong pace here and she's shown an ability to pass horses, twice rallying to place in her past four efforts. Note that her win came in a field of 11 and she hasn't raced in a field that large since.
Of Note: The only two Kentucky-breds in the field are Javamine and Starship Melody. (I know a guy who loves to bet Kentucky-breds when there are only one or two in a field, regardless of class level.)
Race 9, allowance-optional claiming race, 3YO&Up, 1 1/16 miles, turf
Pick: Cage Fighter
My pick has won three of his past four starts. The one start he failed to win in that stretch was likely because he was too close to a hot pace early. No need to be that close today as there are several early-speed types here, including three who will start from the inside post positions.
Of Note: Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey plan to start quite a few horses on the card, including two of my top picks.
Race 10, maiden claiming, F&M, 3YO&Up, 1 1/16 miles, turf
Pick: Senorita Sangria
Trained by Michael Trombetta, Senorita Sangria earned a big early pace number from Equibase in her previous start. That April 25 effort, along with two nice works since, points to a filly who may be improving. She twice finished fourth and once second in her three most recent turf starts.
Of Note: Four of the six races in the pick six sequence are turf routes. Kudos to Gulfstream for allowing more than an hour between the fourth and fifth races to allow people time to finish up their handicapping and punch wagers.