11/23/2008 4:08PM

Bomby, Not Balmy


2:45 pm: Halfway home in the Sunday one-day carry at Aqueduct, but so's the rest of the world. After a bomby (and not at all balmy -- it's freezing here) weekend including a $143.50 winner in today's second, they've been running like trained piglets since the pick-6 began:

That 70-1 winner in race 2, Fourteen and Out, led to a $50k early pick-4 that would have paid on 3/4 with half the field in the the fifth race. Fourteen and Out was a turf-to-dirt, route-to-sprint turnback, who had the field's third-best fast-track fig if you were willing to go seven starts back and overlook his most recent six losses by a combined 80 lengths.

Sheik's Serenade wasn't favored in the 6th until the last two minutes when she was finally bet ahead of Treasure Trail, Zenyatta's 2-year-old half-sister, who was a plodding fourth in her debut and a plodding fifth today.

So I'm 6x1x5 or 3x3x2 the rest of the way, the single being Stormin Normandy in the featured $65k Itaka Stakes for statebreds going a mile. Stormin Normandy is at his best at six furlongs, but looks like the lone speed in a thin field and I'm hoping he and Prado will hypnotize the others early and just make it to the wire.

3:35 pm: The Shaughraun at $19.80 just made things a little more interesting, though this is the kind of winner whose value is hard to gauge: The Shaughraun was technically the 8th betting choice in a field of 10, but this was everybody's spread race, with 8 horses were between 7-2 and 8-1, the winner one of three 8-1 shots, and the 9th and 10th choices were both over 60-1.

3:55 pm: Never mind. Didn't expect any of today's racing at Aqueduct to remind me of Belmont Stakes day, but that's what the feature felt like around the far turn as Stormin Normandy, wearing the IEAH silks, pulled a Big Brown and was virtually eased as the field ran by him one by one. Big Truck wasn't much better fading badly after pressing him, and Icabad Crane got going way too late and could manage only second to the hard-to-like Love Abroad ($34.80).

Worse, a few people did like him: Everyone's covered in the finale, ranging from 5 winners at $35k with favored Hangingbyathread to one winner at $179k with the 3,4,5,8 and 10.

4:20 pm: A dead-heat in the finale between 6-1 Yield Bogey and 15-1 Blues Street. So instead of two winners at $89k with Yield Bogey or one at $179k with Blues Street, there were three winning tickets with either, worth $59k each.

This raises a longstanding theoretical point: Why aren't pick-4 and pick-6 pools split with two payoffs when there's a dead-heat the way that win pools, daily doubles and (usually) pick-3's are? That way, $79k would have been allocated to each horse, and there would have been two winners at $39k with Yield Bogey and one at $79k with Blues Street, reflecting the respective difficulty of coming up with each.

The argument for doing it that way is fairness and consistency; the argument against is that if there were two dead-heats in a pick-six sequence, there would be four pick-6 payoffs, with a possibility for further confusion if there were also gate scratches with transfers to a winning favorite. Still, it doesn't seem fair you would get the same pick-6 payoff with a 50-1 shot who dead-heated with a 1-5 shot. Whaddya think?