Servis Aiming Rainbow Heir for Breeders' Cup

    By Bill Finley

    Trainer Jason Servis has never started a horse at Del Mar, but it may not be too early for him to check on flights from Newark to San Diego this fall. In Jersey-bred Rainbow Heir, he has a fast and classy horse who has proven he can hold his own with the best grass sprinting specialists in the country.

     “He’s a nice horse and I’ve told (owner) Ebby (Novak) I thought he was a Breeders’ Cup horse,” Servis said. “I think he’s something special.”

    He’s also versatile. Rainbow Heir, who was bred by Novak and is by Wildcat Heir, won the opening-day feature at Monmouth, the Wolf Hill Stakes, for the second straight year. It’s a five-furlong dirt race and this year it was run in the slop. Rainbow Heir is a graded stakes winner on the dirt, a feat he accomplished when winning the Grade III Jersey Shore Stakes in 2013 for then trainer Ben Perkins Jr. But it appears his future is on the grass.

    Novak turned the now 7-year-old over to Servis prior to his 2016 racing season. Before that, he had had only one start on the grass, finishing fourth in the 2015 My Frenchman Stakes at Monmouth. In his first start for Servis, Rainbow Heir won the 2016 Wolf Hill. Since, four of his six starts have come on the grass.

    “I think he’s a better turf horse,” Servis said. “That’s why I’m thinking if we get some points there’s no reason we shouldn’t go to Del Mar (for the five-furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint).”

   Rainbow Heir’s first ever grass win came on Nov. 26 when he won the Gin Rummy Champ Stakes at Gulfstream West by 1 ½ lengths with Trevor McCarthy aboard. It was a pivotal moment in his career as he was bumped at the start and was sixth down the backstretch. McCarthy didn’t rush his mount, and Rainbow Heir responded with a strong stretch run to win by 1 ½ lengths over favorite Summation Time. 

    Servis learned something that day.

   “He’s better if he can settle,” he said. “When he didn’t get off good at Gulfstream West when Trevor rode him, that race was huge. That was a nice horse he beat from Christophe Clement. He smoked the last part of it and I was very excited about it. I told Ebby we’ve got a new horse with a whole new dimension. We have a come-from-behind sprinter. Even on the dirt he had been hustled the whole way, so I ’m thinking if I get my shot with him again on the dirt and he can lay third or fourth he might do something special. This is a new angle with this horse, riding him off the pace.  It had been always been go, go, go, and I had fallen into that, too.”

    Rainbow Heir lost his next start, but it was undoubtedly his best performance ever on the grass. In the Gulfstream Turf Sprint Stakes he lost by a nose to Power Alert, one of the most accomplished turf sprinters in the country. The Australian bred is a six-time stakes winner in grass sprints.

    Rainbow Heir was a disappointment in his next start, finishing seventh in the Grade II Shakertown at Keeneland, but Servis wasn’t discouraged. For a turf sprint the pace was relatively modest and he believes that compromised his horse.

    “I hate making excuses and I know you can’t win every race every time, but I felt that it was a slow pace for 5 ½ furlongs on the turf,” he said. “They went 22, 44 4/5. Those horses are supposed to smoke. When he was running in Florida they were going 20 and change, 43. I just think they didn’t come back to him. When he kicked they kicked.  He just had to close into a slow pace.”

    Servis said Rainbow Heir’s next start will either be in the June 10 Jaipur at Belmont or the June 3 Pennsylvania Governor’s Cup at Penn National. He has not ruled out sending Rainbow Heir back to the dirt but understands that he has a better chance of winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint than the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

    Servis has other talented Jersey-breds in his barn, including Fuzzy Muzzle, who won the Charles Hesse III Handicap in 2015 and the Dan Horn in 2016. As is the case with most everyone who has a hand in the Jersey-bred program, he is eager to see the state’s politicians wake up to the fact that the racing industry in the state needs alternative gaming.

    “I’m hoping the state finally starts to get it,” he said. “Why do they let all this casino money go out of state? You go to Yonkers or Parx and you see so many Jersey plates in the parking lot. They are trying to protect Atlantic City, but you’d hope they’d try to keep that money in state.  All the feedback I’m getting is that if we get through this year something is going to break. But I’m here to stay. I’m a Monmouth Park guy through and through.”