10/14/2007 10:33AM

Eight Carryovers


Today's a rare Sunday when there's not a single graded stakes race being run in the United States (I'm not counting the $40k Arabian Sprint Championship at Delaware, a "Grade 1" for Arabians.) But we do have eight pick-six carryovers from coast to coast:

$132,412--Oak Tree
$3,346--Los Alamitos

There's actually a ninth pending carryover, one even smaller than Fresno's: No one picked six at Penn National Friday night, so $176 of the $374 pool (no kidding) will be waiting when racing resumes Tuesday night. Start burning the midnight oil.

Like scaling Mt. Everest for some or visiting all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums for others, chasing eight carryovers in one day is on my life-list of things to do. It's not going to happen today, though, as I'm getting a late enough start on Belmont's double carry after returning from a pleasant Hawthorne Derby Day.

Hawthorne, for those who haven't had the pleasure, is a big, broad-shouldered, brick-laden plant on the south side of Chicago, right on the border of Stickey and Cicero. It looks like a lot more racetracks used to look, with huge, high-ceilinged areas that go on forever rather than the smaller rooms that other tracks have redesigned themselves around to create the illusion of more traffic. It's not a verdant, palatial place like Arlington in the northern suburbs, but the Chicago regulars I talked with were almost unanimous in their relief to be playing an old-fashioned dirt track again after a confusing summer of the new Polytrack at Arlington.

In the Hawthorne Derby, Bold Hawk got up at the wire to beat Twilight Meteor by a head, albeit at $10 rather than the 10-1 ML odds that attracted me to him, but better a short price than a long face, right?

This Belmont carry is no picnic. It's bookended by a pair of 2-year-old filly maiden races, each with five firsters, and I don't understand why the day's first (a 10-horse field with established form) and last (a 10-horse field with five first-timers) couldn't have been switched so that pick-four and pick-six players weren't betting blindly into the nightcap. I'm tempted to keep my play small and just single double-top-fig Tazarine in the finale, despite her 0-for-38 rider [update: late rider change to Chavez], rather than guessing in the dark on firsters from Albertrani, Clement, Dollase, Pletcher and Martin.

Or maybe I'll just take a pass and get an early start on Penn National.