06/21/2009 7:42PM

Wacky Weekend Payoffs

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It was a light weekend on the graded-stakes front, but a peculiar and interesting one when it came to pick-6 carryovers and payoffs on both coasts.

On Friday night at Hollywood, a $522k carryover drew another $1.75 million in fresh wagers. The parlay going into the last leg was only $8,871, and the race was won by Suances de Espana, the 7-2 second choice. With a carryover and only one actual winning favorite, a $100k payoff for a $40k parlay would have seemed more than square. So how did the pick-6 pay $498,711.20 to only three winners?

There were 55 live combos going into the finale, a maiden-claimer with six first-time starters in a field of 10. Of those 55, 18 were alive to the obvious-on-paper hot firster, Cactus Flyer, a bullet-working Jeff Mullins trainee who would go off the 8-5 favorite at post time. That pick-6 was posted as paying $83,118.40. Another 15 tickets (paying $99,742.80 each) were alive to second-time starter Kay S, who would go off the 3.80-1 third choice, just behind firster Suances de Espana. So even though the winner was a slightly lower price (at 3.50-1) than Kay S., there were 15 live tickets to Kay S. and only three to Suances de Espana.

As for Cactus Flyer, had he won the pick-6 would have paid even less than the posted $83k will-pay, because there was a late scratch in the race of Tribal Fire, to whom there had been 9 live tickets -- all of which were then transferred to Cactus Flyer. So in effect, this was a race with two well-bet firsters, but there were 27 (18+9) tickets alive to one and only 3 to the other. I can only imagine how thrilled people who might have been alive to both Cactus Flyer and Tribal Fire were to end up being alive to Cactus Flyer twice instead of picking up the obvious alternative, the bet-down Suances de Espana. Of course if this had been carded as the first rather than last leg of the sequence, bettors could have seen the action on the winner and included him instead of guessing in the dark.

On Saturday at Belmont, the G2 New York Stakes was switched from grass to dirt in the middle of the afternoon, before the start of the Pick-6, but a decision that could and should have been made earlier in the day. Perhaps the announcement was made early and loudly on the NYRA signal, but I'm forced to watch the races on TVG while the signal remains blacked out in Nassau County, and their commentators were still discussing and putting up their pick-4 tickets as if the New York were still on the grass well after the pick-6 had started. (The ongoing confusion may have contributed to the first big miss in Belmont's guaranteed $350k Saturday pick-4's -- only $257,050 was wagered.)

In any case, the victory by Icon Project (fourth choice of five) in the off-the-grass New York killed all tickets even before 28-1 One Lucky Date took the finale, so there was a $38k carryover into Sunday's card. Most tickets probably singled Cocoa Beach, who was 1-9 on the board (actually 0.15-1 in the mutuels) making her season debut in the for the four-horse Floral Park Heatherten Stakes. Cocoa Beach won the G1 Beldame over Ginger Punch in the Belmont slop last September, but didn't seem to care for today's Belmont slop and neglected to beat any of her three opponents, setting up boxcar place payoffs:

1 - With Flying Colors  $13.20  $25.20  ---

2 - Nicksappealinglady    ---      $33.80  ---

Here were the pools that led to those payoffs:

Cocoa Beach's defeat left only seven tickets alive -- three of them to 8-5 favorite Afrikaner, paying $51k each, and a single ticket to each of four other horses at $154k each -- but those four did not include 9-2 third choice Client Eight, a four-length winner.

So you can get to work on a $154,891 double-carry into Wednesday -- or maybe not until Wednesday morning: Four of the six races in the sequence are, you guessed it, scheduled for the grass. It's been raining all day (and all month) here, and the current forecast is for Monday showers, Tuesday showers and Wednesday thundershowers.