11/13/2003 12:00AM

Big A formula: Experience counts

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The three-step plan for success at Aqueduct's fall meet is as follows:

1. Be prejudiced in favor of horses with past winning experience at the Big A, whether it be on the main track or the turf course.

Each and every racing day, at least one "horse for the course" has reprised his winning form on dirt.

The angle has also been extremely effective through the meet's first 10 turf races. Both graded turf stakes at the meet were won at fat mutuels by horses who had won their only previous start over the course: Better Talk Now ($15.60) in the Knickerbocker Handicap and Caught in the Rain ($31.60) in the Athenia Handicap. Candybedandy ($10) also improved to 2 for 2 on the Big A turf layout by winning an entry-level allowance. Quantum Merit ($7.60), winner of the male turf division of the New York Stallion Series, had run his lifetime top Beyer Speed Figure (101) on this course back in the spring.

2. Give extra credit to any horse stabled at Aqueduct who has had the benefit of multiple workouts over the surface.

As covered in this space last week, Aqueduct-based trainers have been taking full advantage of their home-track edge - a trend that continued this week. Heading into Friday's card, four of the top five trainers in the standings are based here: Richard Dutrow Jr. (9 for 26), Frank Laboccetta Jr. (8 for 12), Peter Bazeos (5 for 6), and Rick Violette Jr. (4 for 10). Their combined win rate is just under 50 percent, at 26 for 54.

3. When in doubt, go to the early speed.

This is not exactly news to most handicappers, but horses with positional speed have been extra-tough here so far.

The statistical breakdown:

SIX FURLONGS

Total races - 34

Won by pace-call leader - 17

Won by horses 1-2-3 at pace call - 25

Won by horses within two lengths at pace call - 28

Post 1 - 2 for 34

Posts 1 and 2 - 4 for 68

Outside post - 5 for 34

Two outside posts - 7 for 68

Summary - Find the leader at the quarter-pole and cash a win bet half the time. Horses from middle-to-outside posts have fared best.

SEVEN FURLONGS

Total races - 16

Won by pace-call leader - 8

Won by horses 1-2-3 at pace call - 13

Won by horses within two lengths at pace call - 15

Post 1 - 3 for 16

Posts 1 and 2 - 3 for 32

Outside post - 0 for 16

Two outside posts - 2 for 34

Summary - Still cash half the time by finding the pace-call leader (at this distance, midway on the turn). Elimination tool: Toss any horse who lacks enough speed to stay within two lengths at that point; it would have cost you only one winner.

ONE MILE

Total races - 21

Won by pace-call leader - 15

Won by horses positioned 1-2-3 at pace call - 19

Won by horses within two lengths at pace call - 18

Post 1 - 2 for 21

Posts 1 and 2 - 6 for 42

Outside post - 3 for 21

Two outside posts - 5 for 42

Summary - Contrary to intuitive logic, early speed has been even more formidable in these one-turn races out of the chute. Horses who aren't close-up are running virtually uphill at the leaders during the final quarter-mile.

1 1/8 MILES

Total races - 16

Won by pace-call leader - 6

Won by horses positioned 1-2-3 at pace call - 14

Won by horses within two lengths at pace call - 11

Post 1 - 0 for 16

Posts 1 and 2 - 3 for 32

Outside post - 5 for 16

Two outside posts - 6 for 32

Summary - The only distance at which the win rate of the pace-call leader is below 50 percent. The two-turn routes at this distance have, however, been a haven for stalkers, with all but two winners running one-two-three at the pace call (as with seven-furlong races, midway on the far turn). Counter-intuitively, the inside posts have been no advantage, even with the short run to the first turn. In fact, horses from middle to outside have dominated.

TURF

Total races - 10

Won by pace-call leader - 6

Won by horses 1-2-3 at pace call - 6

Won by horses within two lengths at pace call - 7

Post 1 - 2 for 10

Posts 1 and 2 - 3 for 20

Outside post - 0 for 10

Two outside posts - 2 for 20

Summary - Speed has done surprisingly well on turf this fall, perhaps because of the fact that the course has not been listed firm even once. Also important to know: when the horse on the lead has been caught, it hasn't been by horses in closest pursuit rounding the far turn, but rather by horses coming from farther back in the pack.