06/14/2008 11:09PM

6 of 6: $48.00


Sometimes the best bets are the ones you never make -- like Saturday's all-stakes pick-6 on the Foster card at Churchill Downs.

If I hadn't stayed out too late at a Steely Dan concert Friday night and then elected to goof off instead of gamble after sleeping in on Saturday, I would have put in more than a bit more than $48, and thus come out a heavy loser on the proposition. The combo of Hysterical Lady ($3.00 in the G2 Fleur de Lis), Pure Clan ($4.00 in the G3 Regret), Pyro ($5.60 in the G3 Northern Dancer), Tizdejavu ($8.00 in the G2 Jefferson Cup), Curlin ($2.80 in the G1 Foster) and Dreaming of Anna ($3.00 in the G3 Mint Julep) returned precisely $48.00. That's for 6 of 6. You got only $2.80 worth of consolation for 5 of 6. And Pyro and Tizdejavu weren't even favored.

There's nothing you can do except be happy for the $4 investors when this happens. What else can you do -- try to have it multiple times? I never do. Even when a sequence looks this chalky going in, I see no point in trying to hammer the super-chalky combos -- something usually goes wrong at least once in a six-race sequence. I'd always rather spend any extra dollars on additional backups that could pay five digits than on trying to have a two- or three-digit payoff a few extra times. But that's just me.

So how did the pick-six pay $48.00 while the pick-4 of only the last four pick-6 races paid $69.00, more than the $48.00 you got for two additional winners? The pick-4 pool was twice as large ($269k vs. $123k), and the consos in the pick-6 cut the 6-of-6 payoff by 25 percent. This also seemed like a pick-6 where regular pick-6 players may have passed because of the standouts.

--Hail to Curlin for his dominant Foster victory, winning off by 4 1/4 lengths under 128 pounds, spotting 10 to 15 pounds to his nine rivals. It would have been nice to see the race live on one's home television, but: HRTV is unavailable on cable on Long Island; TVG, for which I pay an extra $4.95 a month to Cablevision, is not allowed to carry the live Churchill signal; and Belmont did not run its last race until 5:50 pm, and didn't finish with the payoffs and replays until 6, and the Nassau OTB channel is not allowed to show out-of-state races until NYRA signs off, so they switched to a quarter-screen view of Churchill just in time...for me to see Curlin being led into the winner's circle. I waited for the replay, and got to see some of it but about halfway through, the Nassau OTB video jockey dropped it for a full-screen view of the 9th at Arlington.

This does not seem the optimal way for the sport of racing to showcase the best horse in the world.