01/01/2004 12:00AM

Chalk up another one for the little guy


ARCADIA, Calif. - Small guys rarely win the pick six, but they sure did in 2003. Five guys from northern California hit a Del Mar pick six for $1.6 million on a ticket that cost only $128, and two South Dakota bettors hit the Breeders' Cup pick six for $2.7 million on a ticket that cost just $8.

It must be a fluke. After all, the pick six is for big-time bettors with deep pockets, right? Well, not exactly. As 2003 drew to a close, David conquered Goliath one more time. There is still hope for the small guy. Don't believe it? Santa Anita television host Jon White offered further proof last Sunday to viewers of Horse Racing TV.

The Dec. 28 card at Santa Anita included a $151,840 carryover in the pick six, and White suggested a $120 pick six ticket during his broadcast analysis. Six races later, longshot She's a Olympian rallied from last to first at odds of 30-1 in the final leg, to complete a perfect pick six ticket for White. White's suggested ticket was one of 13 with six winners; the pick six paid $45,981.20. Luck?

"Part of it's luck, I'm the first guy to admit it," White said later.

But he does not give himself enough credit. White, a former chart caller and columnist for Daily Racing Form, said he does not bet the pick six unless circumstances call for it.

"I'm a situational pick six player," he said. "I won't play unless there's a carryover, at least one strong single, and one other 'pretty strong' single. What I'm trying to do is turn it into a pick four."

White got his chosen situation Sunday and keyed his ticket around the two most heavily favored runners in the pick six sequence - potential star Pesci in a first-condition allowance (race 7), and Redattore in the San Gabriel Handicap (race 8).

Working backward from his key horses, White used two horses in race 4, five in race 5, two in race 6, singles in races 7 and 8, and three in race 9. Total cost of the suggested ticket (2 x 5 x 2 x 1 x 1 x 3) was $120. "That's the most I've ever put up there," he said, admitting that he worried the cost was prohibitive to smaller bettors. "Do I give viewers the best chance, or a ticket that fit more budgets? You have to weigh the chances of winning. At least I was smart enough to not put up a ticket that cost $3,000."

White's familiarity with trainer patterns gave him confidence to discount the chances of two well-fancied maidens dropping for the first time into maiden-claiming company. Some handicappers might have considered the Bob Baffert-trained Exploitation in race 4 and the Wayne Lukas-trained Gross Margin in race 6 necessary inclusions. "I don't throw out Baffert and Lukas lightly, but droppers are not their strength," he said.

In the first leg of the sequence, White's runners finished one-two. Yogi's ($8.60) won by three lengths. In the next leg, White went five deep, and ran one-two-three-four as Castor Troy ($7.80) won by a head over 7-1 Mr. Technique. Chadwicks Well ($9.60) rallied past Gross Margin in deep stretch to win the next leg. Pesci won race 7 by five lengths; Redattore won race 8 by two lengths.

Five races down, one to go. White was live to three horses.

"I was thinking how much three consolations would pay," he said.

He had two favorites, but considered them vulnerable at 6 1/2 furlongs. He threw in longshot second-time starter She's a Olympian.

"She was another reason the pick six was worth playing; you had a knockout horse in there," White said.

He concedes there was some sentimentality attached to the selection. White cashed wins bets on her sire, Olympio, when he won his maiden, and damsire Skywalker when he won the 1986 Longacres Mile. "But you have to be pragmatic - you can't have just sentimentality," White said.

And he was right about the distance. When 2-1 favorite Purple Toi hit a wall in deep stretch, She's a Olympian ($62.40) flew past to win by 2 1/2 lengths.

White was on the air when the pick six payoff was announced. "I couldn't even bring myself to say the figure while I was on the air," he said. "It just didn't seem real."

Beyond monetary satisfaction, White has been deluged with congratulatory messages and e-mails, and received a standing ovation when he returned to the pressbox after the races. Good guys do win.

"I think people are happy for me because I'm not a big-time player in a big-time syndicate," White said. "I'm not in there betting $1,000 a day. People are saying, 'This gives us all hope.' "