12/27/2007 12:01PM



Making sense of the opening-day times at Santa Anita may prove slightly more difficult than nailing that $120,856.50 superfecta on the Malibu or the new Super High Five, which went unhit on its inaugural offering and will have a $43k carryover into Day Two of the meet on Friday.

While Wednesday's SA times were consistently scorching , they didn't fit together across the card. The featured Malibu was run in an "excellent" 121.08 according to one news account, but it doesn't look so excellent compared to the 1:20.37 turned in earlier on the card by the Cal-bred 2-year-old Bob Black Jack in the Cal Breeders' Champions Stakes. That came in the second race and the Malibu was run three hours later, but you can't say the track slowed down. Two races after the Malibu, the $25k maiden claimer Home of the Bold went six furlongs in 1:08.35, which translates to virtually the same raw figure as the G1 stakes.

Maybe the Malibu was simply as bad a race as the times suggest. The victorious Johnny Eves gets extra credit for surviving a three-way duel in 22.04 and 44.04, but that's not so much faster than Bob Black Jack's 22.28 and 44.32 in the Cal Breeders to explain how G1 3-year-olds ran so much slower than Cal-bred 2-year-olds and no faster than maiden claimers. The clunk-up second- and fourth-place finishes by 42-1 Carillero and 54-1 Hurry Up Austin support the theory that the race simply was not a very good one and that the most accomplished entrants -- Great Hunter, Divine Park and Les Grands Trois -- just didn't fire. Betting back horses from the race because "they were only beaten x lengths in the Malibu" may be a bad idea going forward.

The Super High Five attracted a pool of $54,653, well below the $200,000 or so a last-race superfecta would have drawn in its place but not that bad for a new and intimidatingly expensive wager. The first three finishers were under 10-1, combining for only a $237.70 (for $1) trifecta, but the necessary 4th and 5th finishers were 57-1 and 46-1. It will be interesting to see whether the $43,350 carryover into Friday is enough to attract any serious investors or whether they let it go another day.

--Back at Aqueduct, where racing resumed for the first time since Dec. 15 and no extension of the NYRA franchise past Monday was announced, a two-day $161k pick-six carryover attracted another $685,932, $1200 of it mine. I got my money back with two consos at $639, a disappointment after getting alive 2x4x3 after the first three legs, which included a $40.40 winner. Then I ran a distant second and third in the fourth leg with the two favorites behind 10-1 Dance Gal Dance, a second-time starter who improved mightily on her debut victory: The 2-year-old statebred filly's winning time of 1:10.68 was by far the fastest of the afternoon's five six-furlong races, including the 1:11.15 by older N3x fillies in the feature. Dance Gal Dance improved from a Beyer of 70 in her debut to an 87, winning off by 5 3/4 lengths.

Those wise enough to anticipate such a performance were rewarded to the tune of $91,252. It was a rare double-carryover where the pick six paid less than the parlay, but a case where the win mutuels may have been misleading: The $40.40 winner came in a race where everyone spread and a horrendous 4-5 favorite could not possibly have been 4-5 in the pick-six, and the $20.40 winner of the finale was one of only three or four horses in the statebred maiden-claimer eligible to outrun a poodle. The winner's odds were also inflated by what must have been some sort of universal tip on Turn Up The Volume, a second-time starter who showed nothing at 58-1 in his debut on grass seven months ago and little more Wednesday after being pounded to 2.45-1.

---It's hard to keep track of when Aqueduct and Santa anita are running without a scorecard. Here's the lineup:
Aqueduct: Closed Monday 12/31 and Wednesday 1/2, open Tuesday Jan. 1 (franchise permitting).
Santa Anita: Closed Thursday 12/27; open Friday 12/28 through Tuesday 1/1; closed Weds. Jan. 2; open Thursdays through Mondays thereafter.