Why I'm Betting River Boyne in the Rainbow Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 15th, 2018

While five-horse fields aren’t usually where you look to find good betting value, if you have a strong opinion on one of the runners, why not try to capitalize?

That’s my feeling when handicapping Saturday’s $100,000 Rainbow Stakes at Santa Anita. The field is small, but I’m confident that the 1-1 morning line favorite #4 River Boyne will be very tough to beat and might even be a slight overlay at his morning line odds.

After starting his career without much success in Europe, River Boyne was brought to the United States and transferred to the barn of trainer Jeff Mullins, who sent out the son of Dandy Man to finish second in a one-mile maiden race at Del Mar, beaten just 1 ¼ lengths by the future graded stakes winner Blended Citizen.

Thereafter, River Boyne embarked on a three-race win streak, unleashing tremendous rallies from off the pace to win a maiden race, an allowance race, and the Pasadena Stakes in succession. His maiden win was arguably the most impressive since he flew home the final furlong in about :11 2/5 seconds to win by five lengths while traversing the same nine-furlong course and distance as the Rainbow Stakes.

River Boyne was subsequently beaten in the May 5th American Turf Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, but there were extenuating circumstances. River Boyne raced very wide throughout over a soggy turf course that I’m not sure he cared for, but despite these obstacles, River Boyne made a strong bid to reach contention at the eighth pole before flattening out slightly to finish fifth, beaten just three lengths by four colts who took advantage of the testing going to rally from farther off the pace than River Boyne.

The return to firm going at Santa Anita could make all the difference for River Boyne, so I’ll attempt to hit the trifecta and superfecta by keying him on top. For second place, I’ll emphasize #5 Arawak, who finished fourth in the American Turf Stakes. Trained by Doug O’Neill, the son of Uncle Mo has been a capable stakes performer throughout his career but has really stepped up his game as of late and will have the Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens in the saddle.

Arawak’s O’Neill-trained stablemate, #3 Blame the Rider, is 2-for-2 on turf and won the one-mile Singletary Stakes at Santa Anita last month following a prolonged battle for the lead. The third-place finisher, #2 Move Over, came right back to win an allowance race over the downhill turf course at Santa Anita and could also have a chance to crack the trifecta in the Rainbow Stakes.

Here’s how I would play the race:

Update: With the scratch of Move Over and the cancellation of superfecta wagering, we'll have to focus on the trifecta:

$20 trifecta: 4 with 5 with 3 ($20) $10 trifecta: 4 with 3 with 5 ($10)

Good luck!