10/19/2008 11:00PM

Cajun Gent may be key in pick six

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ARCADIA, Calif. - A maiden sprint is the key race Wednesday at Santa Anita, where thrifty bettors chasing a diminutive pick-six carryover may single Cajun Gent in race 6.

At only $99,306, the pick-six carryover is one of the smallest in years generated from a Sunday card at a major California track. Blame it on slumping handle or cannibalization by the $1 pick-five wager, which is offered regularly in California only during the Oak Tree meet. The pick five handled $94,433 Sunday; the pick six handled $178,859.

Bettors will not look backward Wednesday. Rather, they will look forward to a pick-six single, possibly Cajun Gent, who comes off a third in his comeback from a layoff. Trainer Cliff Sise does not guarantee victory Wednesday. However, he does guarantee improvement second start back.

"He's kind of a big, chunky horse; he should move forward," Sise said.

Cajun Gent had been off eight months when he returned Sept. 24. He needed a race, and a big blinkers-on gate workout on Oct. 11 signals imminent improvement.

Cajun Gent worked five furlongs in a bullet 57.60 seconds. Too fast?

"The work won't hurt him at all, he did it so easy," Sise said.

Garrett Gomez rides Cajun Gent, while hoping for a better trip than last time. Cajun Gent was blocked into the lane, altered course twice, and finished well.

To win the seven-furlong race, Cajun Gent must beat 0-for-9 Scibelli, 0-for-8 Fiery Trippi, and first-time starter Whiskey Bent.

The best race Wednesday is the seventh, a first-level filly-mare allowance at a mile on turf. On a wider course, closers Tripped the Light and Comeback Queen would have a chance to catch favorite Christiana's Heat.

But as Comeback Queen's trainer Ben Cecil noted, the rails are at 24 feet and "if you've got a closer, it doesn't help at all." The course configuration does benefit presser Christiana's Heat, runner-up last out in the $150,000 California Cup Distaff at 6 1/2 furlongs. Her forwardly placed style wins most mile turf races when the rails are up.

In race 4, also at one mile on turf, You Lift Me Up will be favored to win a $62,500 claiming race for 3-year-old fillies.

In race 8, longshot Affirminator will try to spring an upset. He had a tough trip sprinting last time, after which jockey Victor Espinoza suggested trainer Jay Robbins run him long.

Affirminator stretches to 1 1/8 miles Wednesday against likely favorite Quite the Man in the $25,000 maiden claimer.