Santa Anita Park features a mandatory payout in its 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6 Sunday and a salty stakes race could decide the fate of a pool expected to hit $5 million.

Barraza-Rainbow 6 San Simeon
Barraza, the 2/1 favorite in the Grade 3 San Simeon figures to be on plenty of bettors’ tickets in Sunday’s Rainbow Pick 6 at Santa Anita. With a mandatory payout, that pool could hit $5 million. (Image: Benoit Photo)

With no single ticket hauling in the $664,316 Rainbow 6 pool Saturday, that amount carries over into Sunday. Based on horseplayers piling in on mandatory payout days, Santa Anita officials say the pool could hit that $5 million mark.

The Rainbow Pick 6 sequence runs from Races 4-9. But it is the eighth race, the Grade 3 San Simeon Stakes, that could prove pivotal to Pick 6 players’ hopes. That 6 ½-furlong trek down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course pits Beer Can Man against Barraza against Bombard, with Bran lurking behind that trio.

Beer Can Man and Flavien Prat make their first start down the hillside course as the 5/2 second favorite. The 4-year-old colt makes his first start for Phil D’Amato, Santa Anita’s leading trainer last year, after moving over from Mark Glatt’s barn. There, Beer Can Man banked more than $323,556 on a 5-3-1 record in 11 starts. He comes in off a nose defeat in the Grade 2 Joe Hernandez Stakes on New Year’s Day.

Barraza going for four in a row

Barraza, the 2/1 favorite, is unbeaten in two trips down the hill. The 3-year-old Into Mischief progeny also rides in with a three-race winning streak. His 119 Equibase Speed Figure from his Clockers’ Corner Stakes victory Jan. 22 marked his career-high, bettering his previous career best by 15 points. Barraza’s Equibase has improved in each of his last five races and his stalking/closing form should play well in this field. He’s 4-1-2 in 12 starts.

A stumble from either of those two and 9-year-old gelding Bombard (4/1) could factor. If there was ever a definition of a horse for a course, it’s Bombard on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course. He’s 3-for-5 on that course and 6-for-11 on Santa Anita’s grass in his 19-race career. Bombard goes for his fifth win in seven starts in his first start since finishing third in the Turf Sprint Stakes last September at Kentucky Downs.

Then, there’s Bran (6/1). The 4-year-old French gelding finished third in that Joe Hernandez in his first start for trainer John Sadler. Like Bombard, he’s run on turf his entire career, racking up a 4-2-3 mark in 14 starts.

There are four Rainbow Pick 6 races before that test

Getting to that eighth race with a live Rainbow Pick 6 ticket means navigating the previous four races. Race 4 is a turf sprint for state-bred maiden fillies and mares. The fifth race is a $10,000 claiming sprint for fillies and mares. Race 6 is a $62,500 maiden claimer over a turf mile. A possible single awaits in Race 7, a state-bred allowance sprint for fillies and mares. Smitten by Kitten is the 5/2 morning-line favorite.

Survive that and the San Simeon with its salty field and the final race in the Rainbow Pick 6 is a maiden turf spring where Irish invader Countess Rosina is the 9/5 favorite. Doug O’Neill’s Ruby Ray at 2/1 offers some insurance and depth.

Barring scratches, 52 horses were entered in the six races, creating an average field size of 8.6 runners per race.