06/29/2004 12:00AM

Carryover or not, pick six is a stumper


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A substantial pick six carryover may or may not be awaiting Churchill Downs horseplayers when they file into the track and its hundreds of offtrack wagering outlets Thursday. But whether or not the bet carried over from Wednesday, at least one thing will remain unchanged: Churchill racing secretary Doug Bredar and his staff made sure the Thursday card was a tough one.

Full fields abound on the Thursday card, most notably in the stretch of races (5 through 10) that comprises the pick six, which sat at nearly $70,000 going into Wednesday and figured to climb to $200,000 or more by Thursday under the highly plausible chance that bettors failed to solve it again. The nominal Thursday feature is a $31,000 starter allowance for older turf horses; with closing weekend of the spring meet coming up, and so many high-caliber races dotting the final pages of the Churchill condition book, not even one allowance is on the Thursday card.

"We're scheduled to have three allowance races Friday," said Bredar, who is wrapping up his third Churchill spring meet. "Then on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, every card is loaded with good races. If all those races go,

people are going to see some incredible racing here for closing weekend."

As for Thursday, the lack of high-end races is mitigated by the multitude of wagering choices that big fields afford. The ninth-race feature, with a field that probably will number no more than seven, is among the least challenging of the pick six events, with the eventual winner most likely to emerge from the trio of .

The other races will ask more of weekday handicappers.

The fifth race is one of those mad scrambles for 2-year-old maiden claimers that could produce a result of virtually any wild kind; two of the top betting choices may come from the barns of Steve Asmussen (Yankee Trail) or Dale Romans (Bridget's Wild Cat), for what that's worth. Romans clearly has the horse to beat in the sixth with Secret Ambition, while the seventh has maybe four or five logical contenders among an overflow field of turf maidens.

, trained by Asmussen, looks like one of the main players in a competitive eighth but is certainly no cinch, while several maiden-special droppers make the 10th-race finale a difficult last piece of the puzzle. In fact, it would not be altogether surprising for the pick six to carry over past the $500,000 mark into Friday.