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Chuck Willis Impressive in US Debut at Gulfstream

Apr 22, 2021
Friday’s Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $200,000  

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Tracy Farmer’s Chuck Willis captured his U.S. and 2021 debuts Thursday at Gulfstream Park, where he dominated a solid group of rivals despite a momentary lapse in focus.

The Mark Casse-trained 5-year-old gelding set the pace in the 7 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance on turf before veering to the outside leaving the turn into the homestretch, testing the strength of jockey Miguel Vasquez. Although he lost the lead in the stretch, he rallied back impressively to score by 1 ½ lengths after Vasquez quickly straightened his course.

The impressive victory hardly came as a surprise to his connections following a recent workout in company with multiple graded-stakes winner Ride a Comet at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.

“We worked him with Ride the Comet a couple weeks ago on the grass and he gave him everything he could handle. It was a very impressive work,” said Nick Tomlinson, assistant to the Hall of Fame trainer. “We worked him from the gate. It was extremely impressive. He’s just a very nice horse.”

Chuck Willis ($7.20), who had won one of four starts in Europe on turf before finishing off-the-board over Woodbine’s synthetic surface in the 2018 Grey Cup (G3). The son of Kodiac came back to win back-to-back optional claiming allowances on the synthetic track at Woodbine last year off a 1 ½-year layoff.

“He’s had his hiccups along the way, but when he’s on it, he’s on it,” Tomlinson said. “As long as he’s happy and healthy, he should be pretty tough this year. We’ve always loved him. He’s great around the barn. The patience of keeping him going, especially by Mr. Farmer, is paying off.”

Chuck Willis ran 7 ½ furlongs on a firm turf in 1:28.45. Blameless, the 3-2 favorite ridden by Paco Lopez, finished second after gaining the lead in the upper stretch. Casse-trained A Thread of Blue, a multiple graded-stakes winner ridden by Emisael Jaramillo, finished a neck back in third.

Friday’s Rainbow 6 Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $200,000  

The 20-cent Rainbow 6 jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $200,000 for Friday’s program at Gulfstream Park.

The popular multi-race wager went unsolved Thursday for the second racing day since last Saturday’s mandatory payout. Tickets with all six winners were each worth $255.90.

The jackpot pool is only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

Friday’s Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 4-9, including the featured 1 3/8-mile optional claiming allowance on turf in Race 6. Todd Pletcher-trained Pillar Mountain has been installed as the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the seven-horse field of 4-year-olds and up. The son of Kodiac is coming off a victory in a 1 ½-mile turf race at Gulfstream March 17. Pletcher will also be represented by Cowtown, who finished sixth behind his stablemate last time out.

Joe Orseno-trained Salute the Colonel, a distance specialist with an affinity for the Gulfstream course, will make his third start off a long layoff while stretching out from a mile. Pleasecallmeback is also scheduled to start after being claimed back by Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield for the second time last time out.

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