Saturday’s Florida Derby Day program at Gulfstream Park will feature a mandatory payout of the Rainbow 6, which had a $1.5 million carryover into Friday’s program. The pool will generate more than $5 million in additional handle if there isn’t a single winning ticket on Friday, and it’s a 20-cent wager.
The $750,000 Florida Derby (G1), a major Kentucky Derby prep with an exciting field of 12 entered, anchors the all-stakes sequence of the Rainbow 6 (races 9-14). I will give my analysis of all six races, and build a ticket below.
Race 9: Sands Springs S.
With the early scratch of Newspaperofrecord, #10 Jakarta looks like lone speed from her outside post. I will use her and a couple of others.
#12 Valedictorian, who really came on with a series of strong stakes performances over the Gulfstream turf last year, will make a title defense with hot-riding Paco Lopez. The up-close stalker should improve in her second start off the bench. Confirmed closer #9 Angel of Mischief is interesting at long odds (20-1 morning line). The lightly-raced daughter of Into Mischief showed plenty of promise on turf early in her career, but she didn’t receive the right set-up when returning from a lengthy hiatus last time. I give her a chance to make a late impact in her third career stakes attempt.
Race 10: Orchid (G3)
#6 Mean Mary enters in fine form for Graham Motion and could prove too good for these rivals on the front end, but she’s eligible to catch outside pressure from Elizabeth Way, who has Paco Lopez up after leading wire-to-wire in The Very One (G3). I will use a couple of others with Mean Mary.
#5 Gentle Ruler won 6-of-7 starts last year, concluding the season with a 2 1/2-length score in the Dowager (G3) at Keeneland, and she won last March at Gulfstream off a layoff. She has a chance for Ian Wilkes. #2 Kelsey’s Cross is sneaky for Patrick Biancone following a fast-finishing third in the Hillsborough (G3) at Tampa, and Florent Geroux will be up on the two-time winner over Gulfstream’s turf.
Race 11: Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2)
#4 Lake Avenue was too sharp from the gate when returning in the March 7 Busher S. at a one-turn mile, sprinting forward to show the way on a clear lead before coming under serious pressure before the conclusion of the backstretch. Bill Mott brings her back three weeks later, the Tapit filly should appreciate the stretch back out to two turns. She will revert to stalking tactics as well behind an expected contested pace, and the Grade 2 winner can strike turning for home.
#5 Spice Is Nice will beoverbet off a non-threatening second in the Davona Dale (G2) in which she was beat by the top of the stretch. I still respect her chances – the Todd Pletcher-trained Curlin filly registered a 97 Brisnet Speed rating for a dynamic 12-length debut maiden win two back – but her last was disappointing.
I am taking a stand against Tonalist’s Shape at two turns, but will include #7 Lucrezia off a smashing win in the Suncoast S. at Tampa; and the late-running #8 Dream Marie.
Race 12: Pan American (G2)
#9 Zulu Alpha will be odds-on following convincing wins in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and Mac Diarmida (G2), but the lack of pace here does the Mike Maker trainee no favors. He can still prove best, but I will also use #1 Channel Cat, who sprung a wire-to-wire upset in a paceless Bowling Green (G2) last summer. Given Saturday’s race shape, Joel Rosario should look to send from the break from his innermost post.
Race 13: Appleton (G3)
#3 March to the Arch appears to be rounding into top form for Mark Casse off a pair of sharp efforts to open the year. The 5-year-old gelding rates top billing, but I will also include #7 Social Paranoia, who was coming on last year before heading to the sidelines after recording his first stakes in early September. Trained by Pletcher (30% win off extended layoffs), the 4-year-old returned from a similar rest with an eight-length maiden romp on Gulfstream’s turf last spring, and Social Paranoia should be prominent from the start with his tactical foot.
Race 14: Florida Derby
I expect Ete Indien to catch more pressure than in the Fountain of Youth (G2), with runners like Independence Hall, As Seen on Tv and Shivaree candidates to keep the probable pacesetter company during the middle stages, and the 1 1/8-mile race should set up perfectly for a stalker.
#7 Tiz the Law is the most likely winner in my estimation following a smashing win in the Holy Bull (G3) that netted a 108 Brisnet Speed rating. I will also use #5 Gouverneur Morris, who has the right run style and should be poised for his best off a nice comeback win.
20-cent Rainbow 6 Ticket
- 9,10,12 with 2,5,6 with 4,5,7,8 with 1,9 with 3,7 with 5,7 ($57.60)