03/07/2010 7:12PM

Big 'Cap Weekend Notes


There were no graded stakes today but there were 10 on Saturday, including three Grade 1's at Santa Anita:

The three Grade 1's all featured close finishes, with Crisp winning by a neck, Proviso by a nose and Misremembered by a diminishing half-length. Each was the third choice in the betting. Proviso and Misremembered were best but you could argue that Blind Luck, beaten two necks in the SA Oaks, deserved to win: She lagged behind a very slow pace, altered course when a hole at the inside evaporated in deep stretch, and was flying at the wire. Despite her defeat, she was the slight favorite in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager at 4-1 over Amen Hallelujah at 6-1.

In the weekend's two graded Derby-trail races, the Gotham looks stronger on paper, with Awesome Act earning a 98 Beyer as opposed to the 86 given to Alphie's Bet in the Sham. Awesome Act, making his first start since being beaten just 1 1/4 lengths in the BC Juvenile Turf -- a slow-paced race in which it has paid to follow the closers and play against the pace-setters -- took to Aqueduct's inner track nicely in his career dirt debut and goes next in the Wood April 3. He beat a field of uncertain quality -- runner-up Yawanna Twist was routing for the first time, and third finisher Nacho Friend hadn't raced since July -- but the Awesome Again colt did it the right way.

Neither Alphie's Bet nor Awesome Act was an individual betting interest in Pool 2 of Derby Futures betting, which closed at 6 p.m. (All Others was the 3-1 favorite, followed by Eskendereya at 5-1 and Lookin at Lucky at 9-1. The shortest exacta is Eskendereya/All Others at $53.40.)

The two of them would have been available for wagering if Churchill Downs hadn't scheduled the first two pools so early this year. Waiting just a week on Pool 2 also would have let bettors factor the results of next Saturday's Rebel, San Felipe and Tampa Bay Derby into their picks.

--You don't often see a 63-1 shot complete only a $12,848 payoff in a double-carryover pick-6, but that's how an otherwise chalky sequence ended at Aqueduct on Sunday when Alykela ($129.50) bobbed 8-5 fave Grace and Courage, who would have completed a $709 pick-6.

Alykela. a second-time starter trounced her debut at 51-1 against slightly better, was the second longest shot in the 10-horse win pool, and offered the third-highest pick-6 payout; Dugout Deputy (32-1) would have completed an $18,313 sequence, and 71-1 Averil's Girl would have made it pay $23,189. The returns with the three favorites would have been $709, $785 or $1,431.

Can't help wondering if we might have had a triple-carry into Wednesday if the first leg had ended as it did under the wire, with Puddin on theRitz finishing first, but she was a pretty automatic takedown for a whip infraction and carrying out runner-up Sugar Trade ($6.70) through the stretch. The put-up of the second choice was followed by four winning favorites at $5.20, $4.90, $3.80 and $4.70. A $117k two-day carry drew fresh money of $410,645 which, after takeout and consos, left about $345k for front-end distribution. That works out to 27 live tickets to Alykela and 487 to Grace and Courage.