An Upset Play to Kick Off the Mandatory Rainbow 6 Dispersal

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 30th, 2018

While the Florida Derby (gr. I) is rightfully the highlight of the upcoming Saturday card at Gulfstream Park, handicappers should be equally excited about the $4.6 million carryover in the Rainbow Pick 6, which—if not hit this afternoon—will be dispersed among all winning ticket holders on Saturday.

The Pick 6 sequence begins with the ninth race, a maiden special weight for three-year-olds going a mile on turf. With eleven starters, the race looks wide-open at first glance, but upon closer review I’m drawn to the chances of #2 Rhode Island.

With a top-notch turf pedigree—he’s by Giant’s Causeway out of the stakes-winning Montjeu mare Baroness Richter, already the dam of the turf stakes winners Dear Lavinia and Dream Awhile—Rhode Island was cut out to be a good horse from the start. Trainer Shug McGaughey isn’t known for winning with first-time starters (an angle I discussed earlier this week on BetAmerica), but Rhode Island actually ran pretty well in his debut going a mile on February 24th at Gulfstream, settling far behind a slow pace before running the final quarter-mile in an impressive :23 flat to finish sixth, beaten just four lengths.

Notably, the slow pace in that race gave a noteworthy advantage to horses positioned near the front of the pack; the top four finishers were the four leaders throughout the race, and RacingFlow.com assigned the event a Closer Favorability Ratio (CFR) of 4, signifying a very speed-friendly race.

I’m expecting Rhode Island to take a big step forward on Saturday. McGaughey wins at a sharp 21% rate with second-time starters, and Rhode Island will also be equipped with blinkers for the first time, which may help him focus and stay a little closer to the early pace. I doubt his 6-1 morning line odds will hold up, but if they do, I think Rhode Island would count as a significant overlay and a great bet.

For Pick 6 purposes, I wouldn’t be afraid to take a shot at singling Rhode Island on a small ticket, though for larger tickets I would also consider #1 Wisely, third in Rhode Island’s debut race, and #7 Art Collection, third in a similar one-mile maiden race at Gulfstream on March 2nd. But this race could also offer the opportunity for a nice score in the single-race exotics, so I recommend betting Rhode Island to win and keying him in the exacta with Wisely and Art Collection:

$10 to win on #2 Rhode Island $5 exacta: 2 with 1,7 ($10) $5 exacta: 1,7 with 2 ($10)

Total budget: $30

Good luck!