09/03/2007 3:08PM

By a Thread


I hope you're aliver than I am after the first two legs of the closing-day mandatory-payout pick-six. I guessed wrong on the 2-year-old turf firsters in the opening leg, relegating Big Brown at 14-1 to C status, and it's hard to complain when a horse you practically leave out wins by what looked like 15 lengths. [Update: margin was 11 1/4, time was 1:40.33. Two races later, G3-quality 3-year-old stakes fillies covered the same distance in 1:40.08.]

Big Brown, a $190k 2yo-in-training purchase at Keeneland, was a pretty well-kept secret. The Boundary-Mien colt was fifth choice in the pick-threes and pick-fours and the seventh choice in the win pool, opening at 9-1 and drifting to 14-1. On the other hand, given that winning trainer Pat Reynolds was 0-for-41 with firsters over the last five years, maybe 14-1 was more alive than it looked. Also, Edgar Prado had been named to ride before his Saturday injury. Jeremy Rose, up for the day to ride Rosinka in the Glens Falls, filled in and just held on tight for the joyride.

That left me alive with one thin ticket for 6-of-6, though it might not take that many to get the front end of the pool and there are other ways I could sneak through the back door for 5's. The remaining 6-of-6 possibility went 8/2,5,12/3/4/1,5,6 the rest of the way, and I got through the first single when Ground Hero was a comfortable winner at $7.90. So now I'm rooting for a chalkfest the rest of the way, with three favorites into two odds-on singles and the three favorites in the finale.

Here at the halfway point on the card, Cornelio Velasquez has gone one up on Kent Desormeaux after they entered the day deadlocked at 43. Each picked up a stakes mount later on the card -- Velasquez on Hostess in the Glens Falls, subbing for Prado, and Desormeaux on Maimonides in the Hopeful, subbing for Rafael Bejarano, who was injured when 15-1 Marital Asset broke through the gate before the fourth. That was the race Velasquez won, with 9-1 Steve's Double beating Desormeaux on 5-1 Elusive Value.