07/01/2001 11:00PM

'Blues' key to 691G jackpot


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Touch of the Blues will arrive at the perfect time on Wednesday at Hollywood Park.

A closer, Touch of the Blues will be favored to win the $150,000 American Handicap. More importantly, for many bettors he is a likely key on a tricky pick six that features a record one-day carryover of $691,095. The total pool could surpass $3 million. [More on the pick six, page 6].

In many pick six races, bettors will be forced to use several horses and pin their hopes on just a few clever selections, but Touch of the Blues is the exception.

Second in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile on May 28, he could give jockey Mike Smith his first stakes win since he moved to California in early May.

The 4-year-old Touch of the Blues is winless in two starts in the United States, the first of which was a third in the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita on April 16.

The Grade 2 American, run over 1 1/8 miles on turf, will be the longest race of his career.

"He ran a big race in the Shoemaker," Smith said. "I think my horse is a better horse. He has had two good races. If he fires, he'll be tough to beat."

Touch of the Blues faces six others in the American, including the entry of Raypour and Takarian. Of the others, National Anthem, who was second in the Inglewood Handicap on April 21, will be well supported.

A 5-year-old, National Anthem finished second to Designed for Luck in an allowance race on June 14, leading to early stretch before losing by 1 1/2 lengths.

"It just happened there was no speed that day," trainer Ron McAnally said.

McAnally said National Anthem can be rated - he was fourth early in the Inglewood - but there are no other front-runners in the American. McAnally is using the race as a prep to the Arlington Million on Aug. 18.

Touch of the Blues is likely to be in mid-pack with Fighting Falcon, who is winless in eight starts dating back to the 1999 Cinema Handicap. Other leading contenders are Glyndebourne, who was 12th in the Hong Kong Derby in late March and second in the 2000 Irish Derby; and Fateful Dream, who won the Inglewood Handicap, but was fifth in the Shoemaker Mile.

While those credentials are bona fide, Touch of the Blues is a deserving favorite and could return to a hero's welcome from pick six bettors.