08/10/2007 1:01AM

The Fake Stakes

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There are 22 more days to go at Saratoga and 144 left in 2007, but it's probably not too early to nominate Thursday's Statue of Liberty New York Stallion Stakes as the worst $150,000 race that will be run in North America this year.

The SOLNYSS is not your typical statebred turf stakes. Those usually feature fun, full fields of veteran New York-breds, popular locals who come back for them year after year. Races such as the West Point and the Yaddo have become lively Saratoga fixtures.

Those races are open to all registered New York-breds, the best of whom tend to be the products of out-of-state stallions. The NYSS races, however, are open only to qualified offspring of stallions standing in the state. The result, especially in the two bizarre Saratoga NYSS races, which are for 3-year-olds at a mile and an eighth on turf, is usually short fields of mismatched and unaccomplished qualifiers.

Thursday's race had six starters with a combined record of 11-for-58. Daughters of City Zip, Freud, Western Expression, Halory Hunter, Intidab and Good and Tough finished in that order. The winner, Tishmeister, was a maiden-claimer in Florida in April and an 0-for-12 maiden a month ago. The second and third finishers, Don't Mind Me and Western Sweep, were making their first starts beyond sprints. Bathhl, who ran a close fourth, was coming off a $40k maiden-claiming graduation at Delaware last time out.

I'm sure they're all lovely animals and anyone would be privileged to own any of them, but the idea that this group ran for a $150k purse and stakes credentials just seems absurd. The race was timed in a dismal 1:50.16 over an inner turf course that had produced a mile in 1:35.94 for N3L conditioned claimers earlier in the day.

--Thursday's overall racing was almost as motley as the SOLNYSS, with four statebred races, a maiden claimer, a conditioned claimer and a steeplechase on the card. Yet there was value in both of the day's overlapping pick fours. The races 3-6 sequence, where winners paid $6.80, $4.80, $21.00 and $7.50, somehow returned $1594, more than double the parlay. How'd that happen? My guess is that the $4.80 winner, a Rick Dutrow dropdown in a maiden claimer who was pounded late and won by eight lengths, was more like 4-1 in the pick four. The races 6-9 quartet, at $7.50, $4.50, $7.40 and $8.70, paid $592.40, another bargain.

And best of all: Carryover! There's $47,584 gathering dust until at least Friday, where the trick will be getting through the blind third leg of race 6, a perfect mess of a pick-six race on five different counts: it's a (1) 5 1/2-furlong (2) turf sprint for (3) 2-year-old (4) statebred fillies with (5) eight first-time starters in a field of 10. Good luck to us all. And remember:

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Wake up! Friday post time this week is 1 p.m.