04/05/2008 1:39AM

The Timetable 4/5/08

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Here's the timetable for Saturday's frenetic lineup of 14 graded stakes worth a combined $5 million:

Note that 8 of the 14 races, including all five Grade 1's, will be run during the 45-minute window from 5:15 to 6:00 Eastern Daylight Time. Typically brilliant scheduling, and of course the races are divvied up among NBC (a 5-to-6 p.m. broadcast being listed and promoted solely as a "Santa Anita Derby" program), HRTV and TVG. So you're just about guaranteed to miss something you wanted to see, whether it's War Pass's return, Colonel John vs. El Gato Malo, Proud Spell vs. Country Star or Ginger Punch vs. Zenyatta. That's a lot of good racing.

Nobody is putting these races together with any kind of cross-track multiple wagers, and the Magna 5 apparently ended for the year last week, so I'll probably focus on the all-stakes (Bay Shore/Excelsior/Wood/Carter) pick-four close to home at Aqueduct.

If I get as far as the Carter, I'll be playing against undefeated Bustin Stones, who ran his record to 5-for-5 wiring a slow-paced General George last time out. The first four finishers from that race are all back and the only one I'll use is stone closer Lord Snowdon. The whole quartet is suspect at the Grade 1 level and I'll lean most heavily on Spring at Last and King of the Roxy.

[Update 6:30 pm: I wish I hadn't gotten that far. Got alive through J Be K ($5.10), Temporary Saint ($24.20) and Tale of Ekati ($19.00) to massively overlaid pick-fours to Lord Snowdon ($12,573), King of the Roxy ($18,511) and Spring at Last ($2,982). Which was worse -- my opinion or their performances? Bustin Stones and Executive Fleet ran 1-2 around the track dueling through honest fractions, while Lord Snowdon clunked up for a non-threatening 4th, King of the Roxy faded to sixth after sitting in the garden spot behind the two leaders, and Spring at Last struggled home 8th. The $5,512 pick-four to Bustin Stones was more than double the parlay. Hats off to the undefeated winner and his connections, including commenter Steve V, who tried this morning (see comments below) to talk me into him.]


Friday notes:

--The notice announcing the cancellation of Aqueduct's Friday racing that appeared on simulcast monitors from coast to coast said the card had been scrapped due to "heavy rains," but just for the record, there weren't any. The forecast was grim, but Friday turned out to be an almost entirely dry day in these parts and there could have been racing on a fast track. The current prediction is for some Saturday morning rain but the chance of precipitation decreases to 10 percent between 1 and 6 p.m.

--Keeneland's opening-day card looked like it might have been fun if you landed on the right longshots but otherwise was another inscrutable chapter in the Polytrack era. While sprint times were a little quicker and more dirt-like than Keeneland's previous Poly meets, including a front-running last-race victory by the 3-year-old St. Joe in 22.53/44.92/1:09.23/1:21.86, route races continued to be run oddly and slowly. The first six furlongs of the day's three nine-furlong races were run in 1:15.36, 1:15.50 and 1:16.02, with every winner then scooting home in about 12 seconds flat. In the featured Transylvania, moved from grass to Poly, favored Prussian (all previous starts on grass) and second choice Barrier Reef (all previous starts on dirt) both tired over the surface to finish fourth and seventh.

The Super High Five had an inauspicious debut, handling only $20,137. Unlike Santa Anita, Keeneland has not eliminated its last-race superfecta, which handled $128,937 on the same race. No one hit the SHF, which has a $1 minimum, so there's a $16,272 carryover into Saturday's finale. The super, with a 10-cent minimum, was hit on a payoff announced as $138,434 for $2, which meant something like $1.60 worth of winning tickets were sold.

The wackiest exotic of opening day had to be the pick six, where there was a pool of just $10, 741. That should have meant a one-day carryover of $6,516, given the tiny pool and six winners that parlayed out to around $60k, but someone actually hit it. Given that there were only four winning 5-of-6 consos, I'm assuming that the winner had those too on one very small ticket that was either a historic handicapping achievement -- and one of the worst underlays in pick-six annals -- or just someone's lucky numbers.