With multi-millions up for grabs, a nation-wide handicapping frenzy is expected to reach a fever pitch. Gulfstream’s experts Pete Aiello, Ron Nicoletti and Catie Staszak got an early start on Saturday’s Rainbow 6 sequence and are offering their picks and observations below:
PETE AIELLO’S RAINBOW 6 ANALYSIS
The force-out sequence begins with a full field of bottom level maidens and many exiting the same races. STARSHIP VERDICTimproved, as all Dwoskin runners, do in his second career start when dropped to this level last out. We think he improves again with the addition of blinkers and rates a viable alternative to the likely favorite B.F. FOREVER. The latter defeated our top pick by over 9 lengths in their recent meeting when losing by a head to repeat-winner Potochon, who won Thursday. TITOTIME is a tricky call here. Claimed in February for $50,000, the new owners are now offering him for less than a third of that. Still, with trainer Dave Fawkes at the helm and a nice recent work, he is a hard horse to leave off your ticket when trying to get things started. Our strategy would be to spread here and make a top heavy ticket to stay alive through some tough early races.
An extremely competitive field of maidens goes 1 1/8 miles over the turf to continue the sequence. The question is doesCORDERO have enough stamina coming in to get this extended trip while making his first start off the layoff? We think he does and trust Pletcher to have him ready for hoops star and co-owner Rashard Lewis. The other question is: Who takes over the riding duties with Zayas banged up with a broken wrist? BULL ENSIGN seems to be on the right side of the form cycle and continues to improve for Eddie Plesa Jr. The shades go on for this and continued improvement is expected. GOOD AND PROPER will certainly be overlooked in the wagering but does rate a chance off the strength of his debut run three races back, losing to two next-out winners, including Alan Goldberg’s Force the Pass, who came back to win a stakes here at Gulfstream. Diego Gomez, a solid but less heralded turf rider, has the call for Larry Bates. Use as many as you can to get through this tricky affair.
The 7 ½-furlong distance of this race throws a wicked curveball into the mix here. Will the closers have enough to launch their rallies from the back? With that in mind, we’ll go with a horse who has options in that regard in the form of MY SPACE COWBOYfor trainer Kathleen O’Connell. This lightly raced gelding is making his first trip around two turns after running on well from the back sprinting last time out. His breeding says he’ll handle the added ground no problem. MAJESTIC BREEZE drops back into the lifetime claiming ranks after running a deceptively good sixth last time against significantly cheaper. A repeat of his maiden-breaking score two races ago would make him awfully hard to handle. BOOM BOOM FRANKIE makes his 2nd local start after running into trouble last time out. His company lines in Tampa are very strong, including a loss to eventual Lexington Stakes winner Divining Rod. Pilotti barn going great right now and he looms a threat at a price.
RACE 9, MIAMI MILE (G3):
The Miami Mile has a longstanding tradition of being both an exciting and competitive race and this year’s renewal did not disappoint. There are many different ways to go in here, but we sided with MCILROY with underrated grass pilot Tyler Gaffalione aboard. Aside from liking the local sod, the gelding has proven he can excel with give in the ground and will be a pretty good price, given the strength of his competition. Will need to work out a clean run in this full field. SHATAK just defeated out top pick in the local prep for this race but did so with a better trip. He certainly seems to have turned the corner for a barn that is very effective at keeping them sharp. With Eddie Castro named, a good trip is likely. STORMING INTI stayed in south Florida for trainer Chad Brown with this race his prime objective. He faced some good ones last season and did so with a fair amount of success, including a local stakes tally in last year’s Kitten’s Joy stakes. His high cruising speed should allow Goncalves to find a
good spot for him early. MIDDLEBURG lures Jose Lezcano to town for turf master Clement and is another in a race full of contenders.
RACE 10, POWDER BREAK:
The key to this race is Discreet Marq. If she fires, she wins. That said, this seems like a prep for something bigger to us so we’ll try to beat her. We are asking a lot of ROSEDALE ARCH to tackle battle-tested stakes horses after breaking her maiden, but the price is worth the gamble as she was so impressive in her turf debut. We think she’s a new filly and she gets the acid test today. E B RYDER is one of those aforementioned battle-tested stakes mares who should trip out nicely behind a projected quick early pace. Excellent turf rider Pablo Morales has the return call after a strong try last out at Tampa Bay. LORI’S STORE is another who exits the Florida Cup across the state at Tampa and will be rallying from off the speed. Eddie Castro has the riding assignment for Marty Wolfson, who also trains our second pick.
A full field to close the sequence has a mixture of styles and recent form, making it an excellent betting affair. MEGALITH moves to the barn of Norman Pointer after being run down by a recent Sano acquisition last out. Veteran campaigner has 5 local victories and faces a field who has not won more than once here in Hallandale. Should sit mid flight and kick on when it matters.BLUEGRASS JAM, the likely favorite, continues to drop in class in search for his first victory for the high-percentage Walder outfit. Slight cutback should allow him to stalk the early pace and get first run on the stretch runners. Rates a long look. BE A BULL also figures to take strong play for the potent Kirk Ziadie shedrow. This gelding elected to stay home and run here after being in against much cheaper Wednesday afternoon at Tampa Bay Downs. With Edgard Zayas on the sidelines, a strong replacement is the key to success.
RON NICOLETTI’S RAINBOW 6 ANALYSIS
B. F. FOREVER is stretching out to 6 ½ furlongs after returning from a freshening to come within a head of exiting the maiden ranks against similar going three-quarters of a mile. LAVANDERO is dropping to the $12,500 level again after ending his winter campaign by hitting the board in one of two starts at the $25,000 level. His previous performance at this level and distance (Jan. 15) produced a well-meant 2nd-place finish. STARSHIP VERDICT will be outfitted with blinkers after breaking from Post 11, making a 5-wide bid, and hanging when finishing 4th behind B. F. Forever.
CORDERO, now in the Todd Pletcher barn, makes his first start since setting the pace and weakening to finish 5th behind a pair of next-out winners, including Grade 3 stakes-placed and GP West Juvenile Turf Stakes winner Firespike, in a 1 1/16-mile maiden test at the Spa. AS YOU LIKE IT is stepping up into maiden special weight company for new trainer Jena Antonucci after finishing 3rd vs. $50,000 maidens while in the Jonathan Sheppard barn. The son of Shakespeare is bred to love this 9-furlong distance. BOCA SCUTTLEBUTT is stretching out to a 1 1/8 miles after stalking the pace and finishing 3rd vs. a solid group of maiden special weight runners going 1 1/16 miles.
MAJESTIC BREEZE, who defeated $30,000 maidens by 7 widening lengths, is dropping into this $30,000 ‘2-lifetime’ claimer after getting beat less than 3 lengths in a productive $50,000 optional claimer that has already produced a pair of next-out winners. BOOM BOOM FRANKIE is another dropping into the conditioned claiming ranks after returning from the layoff to finish a troubled 10th (checked 1/8-pole) for trainer Larry Pilotti; Jonathan Gonzales rides. ALL MY MEMORIES moved to the Mike Petro barn via the claim after rallying to finish 2nd vs. this caliber of competition going 1 1/16 miles. Trainer Petro is 22% with new claims.
RACE 9, MIAMI MILE (G3):
GRAND TITO, who was beaten only a neck by Mshawish in the Grade 2 Ft Lauderdale, and 1 ½ lengths by him in the Grade 1 GP Turf Handicap, should be able to flaunt his class in the first start since rallying to get beat a length in the Grade 3 Appleton last out.MIDDLEBURG is making his stakes debut at his most accomplished distance thus far (6-2-3-1), after returning from the layoff to post his 2nd consecutive victory vs. $100,000 optional claimers going 1 1/16 miles. Trainer Christophe Clement has Jose Lezcano named on the son of Lemon Drop Kid. STORMING INTI, a Grade 2 stakes-placed son of Stormy Atlantic, supplemented into the race, is making his first start since showing speed and fading late in a $100,000 optional claimer here on March 6. Trainer Chad Brown is 29% with the 31-60 days freshening.
RACE 10, POWDER BREAK:
DISCREET MARQ is making her local return for trainer Christophe Clement the first start since getting beat only 1 ¾ lengths in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Del Mar on Nov 30. Trainer Clement, 23% with the 61-180 days layoff, has the winner of over $1 million training beautifully for the return. BAFFLE ME should be primed and ready to score after returning from the 3-month plus layoff to get beat only 1 ¾ lengths in the mile Grade 2 Honey Fox. ROSEDALE ARCH is taking the big step up into stakes company after the very impressive maiden victory on the grass in which she returned from a 13-month layoff to win by 7-plus lengths. There’s no telling how good the daughter of Arch can be.
BLUEGRASS JAM is dropping into this $8,000 conditioned claimer, and cutting back to 7 furlongs, after disputing the pace and weakening late to finish 3rd vs. $12,500 claimers going a mile. WROL UP is another turning back to seven-eighths of a mile after showing speed and getting caught late when finishing 3rd vs. multiple winners in a $6,250 claimer going a mile. MEGALITHmoved to the Norm Pointer barn via the claim after coming within a half-length of notching this condition at the distance. The barn, 21% with new claims, has apprentice Jorge Robles named to ride.
CATIE STASZAK’S RAINBOW 6 ANALYSIS
B. F. FOREVER should improve in his second start off a more than a 2-month freshening for trainer Stanley Gold. The 3-year-old son of Awesome of Course returned from the layoff to be beaten only a head at this level on April 11. He was eight lengths clear of the third-place finisher. LAVANDERO takes a class drop and cuts back in distance after finishing unplaced against $25,000 maiden claimers on Feb. 19. The last time the colt ran for this price tag, he finished second, beaten just 1 ¼ length when racing 6 furlongs in January. STARSHIP VERDICT should benefit from the addition of blinkers after making a 5-wide bid and hanging in his dirt debut on April 11.
CORDERO (IRE) will make his first start for trainer Todd Pletcher when returning from a 9-month layoff. The son of Giant’s Causeway debuted in a stake at Royal Ascot and finished fifth in his North American debut at Saratoga last August. The second, third, and 10th-place finishers from that race all came back to win their next starts. TAP IT OFF should be a much fitter horse in his second start off almost a 3-month freshening for trainer Michael Trombetta. The former $500,000 purchase received a career-best Beyer when debuting for the barn on April 11, when he weakened to fifth after sitting off a quick pace. After finishing fourth at this level on March 21, BULL ENSIGN should be more involved early when equipped with blinkers for the first time. Trainer Eddie Plesa, Jr. wins at a 33% clip when employing this kind of equipment change.
ALL MY MEMORIES will make his first start off the claim for trainer Michael Petro after finishing a solid second at this level on April 4. Jose Caraballo will be aboard the 4-year-old son of Elusive Quality and should be able to work out a nice trip while sitting just off the speed. BRITISH GLORY will hope the third try is the charm after getting caught at the wire in his last two starts at the level and distance for trainer Charles Assimakopoulos. The gelded son of Put It Back will be dangerous if left alone on the lead.MY SPACE COWBOY returned from an eight-month layoff to finish third in a $20,000 claimer on March 20, despite getting bumped at the start and having to take up sharply at the 1/8th-pole. The lightly raced Kathleen O’Connell trainee should appreciate the extra real estate he will receive after sprinting five furlongs in each of his two career starts.
RACE 9, MIAMI MILE (G3):
GRAND TITO is due for a breakthrough win after producing close finishes in numerous graded stakes races throughout the 2014-2015 Championship Meet. The 5-year-old gelding was most recently third, beaten just a length, in the Appleton (G3) on March 28 for trainer Gustavo Delgado. He finished second in the Canadian Turf (G3) and came a neck from victory in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) behind Mshawish, who would win the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) in his next start. STORMING INTI should show a marked improvement in his second start off a 6-month layoff for trainer Chad Brown. The three-time stakes winner, who captured Gulfstream’s Pulpit and Kitten’s Joy stakes in 2014, faded to fourth after setting the pace in a competitive allowance on March 6 behind highly regarded stablemate Pleuven. MIDDLEBURG will make his stakes debut after returning from a 5-month freshening to win an upper-level allowance at Gulfstream on March 29. Trainer Christophe Clement has jockey Jose Lezcano flying in for the day from Kentucky
specifically to ride this horse, who has never finished off the board in 12 career starts.
RACE 10, POWDER BREAK
DISCREET MARQ will make her 2015 debut after placing in three Grade 1 events last year (She won the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in 2013). The 5-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat is the class of the field and has been training forwardly for her return at Payson Park. Baffle Me finished fourth but beaten less than two lengths in the Honey Fox Stakes (G2) on March 28, her first start in more than three months, despite getting shut out at the 1/8 pole. With a better trip, the Mark Hennig trainee should move forward in her second start back from the break. LORI’S STORE, one of two Marty Wolfson-trained entrants, is a stone-cold closer who could be able to capitalize off a pace loaded with speed.
BLUEGRASS JAM should appreciate a cut-back in distance after pressing the pace and fading at a mile on April 3. The Peter Walder trainee will also get some class relief against conditioned claimers after running in open company for a $12,500 tag.MEGALITH will make his first start off the claim for trainer Norman Pointer after just missing the victory by a half length at this level and distance on March 29. BE A BULL has been beaten less than three lengths in each of his last three starts at this level and distance. The Kirk Ziadie trainee should be able to work out a nice trip while stalking the pace.