Over The Rainbow
THRU THE BINOCULARS
By JOHN PIESEN
OVER THE RAINBOW
Barring the unlikely possibility that the Rainbow Six at Gulfstream Park will be hit this weekend, we will be looking at racing history on Monday.
Here's the deal.
There will be an estimated $15 million in the Rainbow Six pool on Monday, a figure that the best anyone can determine, represents an all-time record. And it must be paid out. All you need do is pick six winners, and you get a piece of the pie.
Needless to say, it won't be easy. The two dirt races in the sequence each boast 11-horse fields, and a dozen will go in each of the four grass races.
And there's no odds-on horse in sight.
As usual in the Rainbow Six, the minimum bet will be 20 cents.
You got that right.
How would you like to be a mutuel clerk Monday at Gulfstream Park -- or at any simulcasting site for that matter?
The whole idea of the Rainbow Six is that on normal days, the only way it can be hit is if there is one (just one) ticket with all six winners. And on days, which is most days, that doesn't happen, the pool swells -- eventually into the millions.
The pool reached $6.3 million last Sunday when the Rainbow Six went unhit for a 73rd straight day, and Gulf officials, assuming the R6 goes unhit this weekend, predict the pool will swell to at least $15 million on Memorial Day when, I repeat, you don't have to be the only winner. Every winning ticket shares in the payoff.
Historians will note that the highest pick six pool ever recorded in this country was
$10,870,852 at the defunct Hollywood Park on July 2, 2007, with each winning ticket worth $576,064.
As far as I know, the record individual payoff in the U.S. occurred last spring when a New Jersey businessman scored $3.5 million as the only winner of the Rainbow Six. He made his bet, and obviously cashed at the Favorites OTB in Woodbridge.
I learned the identity of the guy, and tried to set up an interview, but he declined. Seems the fellow had and has an ex-wife to consider.
But Mr. X was generous. He returned to the OTB a week later, and tipped every mutuel clerk, bartender and waitress he could find. I expect he will return to the scene of the crime on Monday.
Especially at 20 cents a throw.
Judy Garland would have been proud.
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Switching gears. California Chrome's chances for a Triple sweep improved dramatically when Danza dropped out on Monday. The defection came just a day after the colt worked a solid half for trainer Pletcher at Belmont Park. No reason was given for the withdrawal, but I've learned to always suspect the worst.
Since Danza would have been the second, or at worst, third choice, his defection obviously is a big plus for the Chrome.
The other interesting development of the week was that jockey Rosario, given the choice of Tonalist or Ride On Curlin, chose Tonalist, the Peter Pan winner, over the Preakness runnerup.
Johnny V wasted no time taking the mount on Ride On Curlin, who, other than California Chrome, will be the only horse to answer the bell for all three Triple Crown races.
In other jockey developments, Pimentel was bounced from Kid Cruz by trainer Rice, and the mount remains open, and Mike Smith, a recent two-time Belmont winner, took the call on longshot Matuszak from trainer Mott.
Finally, jockey Contreras got the heave-ho from Social Inclusion. SI never made the top in the Preakness. I would think he will in the Belmont.
By the way, does anyone have an explanation as to how and why SI dropped from 10-1 to 6-1 in one flash three minutes to post for the Preakness?
It was also curious that Smith, Johnny V. and Stevens, all Hall of Famers, and with a century of experience among them, all sat out the Preakness.
But all three will ride in the Belmont. Gary is named on Candy Boy.
Not that the Belmont needs the hype, wouldn't it be great if trainer Asmussen shocks the world and enters the Kentucky Oaks-winning filly Untapable in the Belmont? After all, Rags to Riches won the Belmont, beating two-time Horse of he Year Curlin, and I don't think Rags could warm up Untapable.
And the last I looked, Rosie is open for the Belmont.
Can you imagine what the winner's circle will look like if Commanding Curve or Ring Weekend win the Belmont? Both colts race for West Point Thoroughbreds, which means hundreds of owners.
Same goes for Wicked Strong, who looks super dangerous.
The bottom line is: even with Danza out, there are still several options.
With due credit to California Chrome, this is the 10th anniversary of Smarty Jones getting beat in the Belmont, and the 25th anniversary of Easy Goer, benefitting from a home-track advantage, knocking off Sunday Silence in act three.
Is it really 25 years?
What to make of NYRA pulling its daily race-day recap off the air...and telling viewers they are doing them a favor?
Well, anyway, the race replays are still available on their site, at least until they pull the plug on that too.
Abaco from the Phippses will be favored in the $200,000 Sheepshead Bay Saturday at Belmont although Riposte beat Abaco in a prior meeting at Gulfstream.
The X factor is the surface. Unlike the Gulf race, the Sheepshead Bay likely will be run over soft ground
Whatever the surface, the Toddster has the mare to catch in Viva Rafaela.
Finally, if you get time, check out my cover piece on Monmouth Park in the June issue of American Turf Monthly.
Good luck this holiday weekend, especially with the Rainbow Six, and please take the time to remember our troops.
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