04/24/2008 10:28PM

Mandatory Sayonara

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If you weren't already planning to say goodbye to Keeneland by jumping into the closing-day pools, perhaps a $375,412 pick-six carryover -- into a likely million-dollar pool that has to be paid out even if nobody picks six -- might tempt you?

I'm planning to get involved, to the tune of exactly $2 less than my current modest three-digit profit for the meeting. I want to remain a gruntled horseplayer and show at least a $2 profit for Keeneland Spring 2008. (That cause was helped when I was credited this week with $336 in refunds on my $672 April 16 play. It appears Keeneland took the high and generous road amid the confusion of whether a gate scratch counted as a refund or a switch to the winning post-time favorite, and paid out on both.)

The Friday pick-six races are a strong and crowded lineup, with two 3-year-old maiden races, three allowance races and a Grade 2 stakes:

Race 5: 3F, MdSpWt, 7f-poly (field of 12)
Race 6: 4+, N2x, 1 1/16m-turf (12)
Race 7: 3M, MdSpWt, 7f-poly (12)
Race 8: 3F, N1x, about 7f-poly (8)
Race 9: 4+, G2 Elkhorn, 1 1/2m-turf(13)
Race 10: 4+, N1x, 1m-turf(13)

There are some strategic considerations when playing a closing-day carryover because of the mandatory payout. Since the top payout will be the same whether it's 5-of-6 or 6-of-6, it may make sense to single in a race where you think that if your choice doesn't win, anyone could. If an impossible horse wins, it's a miss for almost everyone, 5-of-6 may be good for top honors, and you've spent your money going deeper elsewhere.

The first leg goes off at 3:10 p.m., and I'll keep you updated here race by race.

---There are two excellent articles on pace and the Kentucky Derby by Randy Moss that you probably haven't seen unless you've clicked through to the Derby section of this site. The first one is a look back at how pace influenced the last 10 Derbies, and the second is a preview of possible pace scenarios in this year's race.

Also worth a click is the relatively new blog Colin's Ghost, which describes itself as "bring[ing] to light racing's past through primary sources and contemporary news accounts." Early entries include accounts of Opening Day at Belmont Park in 1905 and Dr. Fager's 1967 world-record mile.