01/04/2010 8:54PM

The $223 Horse


MoneytruckloadWhen Hudson Heights won Saturday's sixth race at Aqueduct and paid $223, it was the largest win mutuel at a NYRA track in almost 11 years; the start of a $4,223 double (with a $60.00 winner in the 7th) that was the highest since 1945; and began a pick-4 sequence that was,to the best of anyone's recollection, the first time no one went 4-for-4 since the bet came to New York almost a decade ago.

There was a single $1 live ticket going into the last leg of the pick-4, which would have returned $170k for a buck, but alas it was not to the winning favorite, Golden Boychick ($4.50). Bad time to single against a favorite. So under state regulations, the $170k was instead shared among those who had any 3 of the 4 winners, some $128 worth of tickets, with a payoff of $2,668 for $2.

The unusual situation led a few people to wonder whether it wouldn't have been more fun if three-quarters of the $170k had carried over to Sunday's card (which would have carried to Wednesday, since Sunday's racing was cancelled due to high winds and low temps.) Sounds like a good idea, and some smaller tracks do carry their pick-4's, but there could be problems.

At tracks that run two or more pick-4's a day, the sequences often are consecutive -- a typical nine-race NYRA card offers the bet on races 2-5 and 6-9, and a weekday eight-race card in California has pick-4's on 1-4 and 5-8. Is it really fair to bettors to give them what would be less than half an hour between the announcement of a carryover and the start of one? And what about days, often the biggest of the year, when a third pick-4 is shoehorned into the card with an overlapping race or two?

Carryovers work best on once-a-day bets such as the pick-6 and pick-9: There's no confusion about when the carryover will be, and everyone gets at least one night to study.

Hudson Heights did prompt a one-day $35k pick-6 carryover when Aqueduct reopens Wednesday. It's actually pretty amazing that single 5-of-6 conso was sold Saturday (at River Downs), making it a day when Nobody Picked Six, Somebody Picked Five, and Nobody Picked Four.

How tough was Hudson Heights? On the positive side, the son of Champali was stepping up off a pair of career-best efforts, but those were against $4k maiden-claimers at FInger Lakes and he was making his first start against winners, albeit of the $15k N2L variety. He jumped up 7 points (2 1/2 lengths at 6 furlongs on the Beyer scale) to win with a figure of 55:

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