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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rainbow 6 exposed?

The announcement by Gulfstream Park of its Rainbow 6 wager to have a mandatory payout on Monday, May 26, created a lot of excitement among horseplayers.  With its $6.6 million carryover, estimates made by track executives suggested the pool could reach as much as $20 million.  Entries were drawn earlier than usual to give horseplayers an extra day to handicap and with it's minimum $.20 wager, it seemed that anyone who wanted to play could afford to.

Unfortunately, the excitement bubble was burst when the Rainbow 6 was hit one day before on Sunday, May 25 for a payoff of $6,678,939.12.  The winning ticket cost $7,603.20 using the "all" button in five races and two horses in the other race.  All the hours spent handicapping by those looking forward to that day has been lost as the wager will likely have only a fraction of the pool for its mandatory payout and track executives will never know how much the pool could have swelled to.

As for the rules of the Rainbow 6, it is paid out every day for those who have selected the most winners on any ticket for that race day.  If there is not a single winning ticket, 70% of the pool pays out to winning tickets with the other 30% going into the carryover pool.  If there is a single winning ticket, the entire pool including the carryover is paid out.

Basically, if you have a winning ticket that is not a single winning ticket (with all six winners) you are hit with a double takeout: The 20% takeout for placing the wager and then 30% from the winnings that goes into the carryover pool.  Sounds like a lose-lose wager for those who play it unless you are one of the very few who has a single winning ticket which has proven to be extremely rare.

It will be interesting to see how the betting public accepts the wager now that the wager has been exposed in that it can be "bought" by a large ticket and for its "hidden" double takeout.  The dreams of a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow has faded and the Rainbow 6 wager might fade away as well.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Kentucky Derby 2014 recap

Under a flawless ride by jockey Victor Espinoza, favored California Chrome proved he was best with a 1 3/4 length victory.  The way 'Chrome can put his foes away entering the stretch is impressive though the final time was not at 2:03.66.  They ran the final quarter in a slow 26.21 which may be a sign this is not a good crop and/or thoroughbreds just are not bred to excel at 10 furlongs anymore.

There were a few horses who did not have clean trips led by my selection Candy Boy.  He was wiped out entering the first turn by Wicked Strong and he never had a chance to run to his best.  At least it appears he came back OK.  

Jockey Joe Bravo nearly caused a mid-stretch accident when he swerved Danza in front of Wicked Strong and Medal Count.  Danza did prove his big Arkansas Derby win was no fluke as it took him a while to get going, but once in the clear he really leveled out.  As for Medal Count, it appeared that he was just finding his best stride when Danza cut him off.  Thank goodness he did not go down.

Want to watch a strange ride?  Watch Calvin Borel aboard Ride On Curlin.  Breaking from the far outside, Borel took 'Curlin immediately to the rail as they passed the stands for the first time.  Entering the stretch, Borel decided to stay along the rail even though there were two horses right in front of him.  Borel had to check, he finally decided to swing him widest of all and he rallied while way too late. 

California Chrome was not as dominating as he was at Santa Anita earlier this year and the first 12 runners were only separated by about seven lengths.  That seems to leave little margin for error for 'Chrome if he goes to the Preakness Stakes in two weeks.  However, his name is in the record books and his name will be in full view between the famous twin spires for the next year.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Kentucky Derby 2014 selections

On paper, there is no denying that this year's Kentucky Derby goes through California Chrome.  The California-bred has won four straight races by open lengths earning solid Pace and Final Time Ratings (click here to learn about Today's Racing Digest speed ratings).  You might compare him to past winners Barbaro or Big Brown who also entered the Kentucky Derby with a string of victories.  

I think the way to play California Chrome is to key him on top of the exotics or don't use him at all.  In my opinion, he looks like an all or nothing type of horse as the biggest factor may fall on how he handles the expected pace pressure.  

Candy Boy was a distant 3rd against California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby, but I think he rates a big chance to turn the tables.  It did appear that Candy Boy was too close to the pace in that event and that may have been per trainer instructions since the track was favoring early speed that day.  The colt finished 2nd to the 2-year-old champion Shared Belief last year and his Grade 2 RB Lewis win showed his grit in the stretch.  I think he will sit 5-6 lengths off the leaders up the backstretch and if Stevens can find clear sailing he could grind out the win.  

Samraat appeared to be going the wrong way per his Final Time Ratings leading up to the Wood Memorial.  However, his Final Time Rating did jump back up when he was game for 2nd in a photo.  While he was no match for Wicked Strong that day, he could be sitting on a top effort if he can settle off the expected hot pace.  As for Wicked Strong, he was a top choice winner for the Digest, but his best races have been in New York.

A horse I just can't figure out and I keep coming back to is Tapiture.  He was in sharp form prior to his 4th in the Arkansas Derby as the favorite and he has that Thunder Gulch type of look.  His Grade 2 win over this track last year is easy to like and maybe he will rebound. 

If you're looking for a wild longshot, I would give Commanding Curve a look.  This guy won a Maiden race over this track last year and he made his first start as a winner (and this year) in the Grade 2 Risen Star.  He finished 6th of 14 that day and returned to finish 3rd in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.  His connections seem to think he is this good and his deep closing style suggests he will be rallying strongly in the stretch if good enough. 

1. Candy Boy
2. Samraat
3. California Chrome
4. Tapiture
Longshot: Commanding Curve