01/05/2008 3:42AM

Airborne Six

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Nightmare

When I booked yesterday's 1:15 p.m. flight to Ft. Lauderdale last month, I obviously didn't realize that this would put me in the air for the precise duration of a double-carryover pick-six at Aqueduct. So I had the weird experience of getting late scratches just before going through security, tinkering with my tickets in the waiting area, phoning in my play just before boarding and then flying helplessly south as the races were being run.

When I landed, I suppose I could have waited to watch the replays after collecting my bag, renting a car, driving to the hotel, checking in and setting up my laptop, but I'm not that much of a Zenmaster. Instead, I hit the first payphone on the way to baggage claim, dialed 1-800-THE-NYRA and got the bad news right away: 5 out of 6, missing the shortest-priced winner in the sequence, Indian War Dance at $7.30 in the second leg. I know, I'm stubborn but I just didn't like him. At least I didn't have to suffer through his squandering 4 3/4 of the 5 length lead he had at the furlong pole, holding off the horse I needed by a neck. Next.

--I'll be doing a seminar with Mike Welsch and Ron Nicoletti in the Gulfstream paddock at 12:15 Saturday (not the 11 a.m. advertised), and there will be plenty to talk about. This is not exactly one of those glorious winter cards chock full of sexy 3-year-olds. The two graded stakes (the Mr. Prospector and the Hutcheson) are decent if chalky-looking, and there's a good sophomore N1x allowance sprint, but the theme of the day seems to be low-level claimers on the grass -- $30k N2L 3-year-old fillies, $32k maiden-claiming older fillies, $30k N2L 3-year-olds and $18k elders. The idea seems to be to build field size and provide opportunities for the Calder horses, and at least they're good gambling races if you're feeling creative and hunting for prices.

A few nutty notions that might be worth including at big ML odds: Emma's Valentine (20-1) in race 2; Cricket Miss (20-1) in race 4; Nic's Amigo (20-1) in race 8; and Colorful Judgment (8-1) in race 10.

--The Eclipse Award finalists announced Friday contained only a couple of tiny surprises to quibble with in what will probably prove to be photo-finishes for third when the winners and tallies are announced Jan. 21. I was surprised to see Kodiak Kowboy rather than Court Vision as the third 2-year-old nominee besides War Pass and Pyro, and the voters showed a misunderstanding of steeplechase stakes racing by making Planets Aligned rather than Mixed Up the third jumping nominee in addition to Good Night Shirt and McDynamo. Here's a link to the pp's of all the finalists.

Better get some sleep. There are 10 races at Gulfstream tomorrow, then 15 at Mardi Gras Racetrack and Gaming Center, formerly known as Hollywood Dog Track.