03/18/2008 11:00PM

Day to dream: $700K carryover


ARCADIA, Calif. - Trainer Melody Conlon and owner John Liviakis will have plenty of company Thursday at Santa Anita, where they can start dreaming about the Kentucky Oaks at about the same time pick-six bettors begin to dream about a jackpot payoff.

Thursday is a good day to fantasize, for horsemen and horseplayers. Because when Gentle Audrey returns from a six-month layoff in race 3, she will carry the hopes of Conlon, Liviakis, and bettors taking aim at a two-day pick-six carryover of $699,574. The pick six carried Monday for the 21st time in 53 racing days; track officials estimate that the pool Thursday will swell beyond $3 million.

Gentle Audrey is a key starter in the first leg of the pick six, which covers races 3-8. The first-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on turf is the first step back for Gentle Audrey, fourth in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes in her last start six months ago. Gentle Audrey chipped an ankle in that race, and Conlon believes she can return as an even better 3-year-old.

"It might be ambitious, but we think she's good enough to go to the Kentucky Oaks," Conlon said. "She's been in some really good company."

Has she ever. Gentle Audrey finished third to Grade 1-placed Izarra in her debut, improved second time out and defeated subsequent stakes winner La Mina and stakes-placed Kazamira, then stretched to two turns Sept. 29 in the Oak Leaf. Nothing went right.

Gentle Audrey lost a shoe, chipped an ankle, yet missed by only 2 1/2 lengths. After minor surgery to remove the chip, the Elusive Quality filly resumed training with gusto.

"Her workouts don't show how she gallops out - she does it effortlessly," Conlon said.

Garrett Gomez rides 1-for-3 Gentle Audrey. Conlon wants her to start again once more before the Oaks, if she is good enough.

Race 3 also includes Wickednwackyingrid, a disappointing runner-up vs. similar last month. After putting away front-runner Czechers and opening a half-length lead in midstretch, Wickednwackyingrid allowed Czechers to re-rally and beat her by a length. At the time, trainer Jack Carava suspected misfortune, because horses usually do not grasp defeat from the jaws of victory without an excuse.

"I was pretty sure she either got hurt or bled, but she was fine," Carava said, now suspecting that Wickednwackyingrid resented being rated.

Wickednwackyingrid figures as a contender again Thursday in race 3, while bettors who can afford bigger tickets may also use droppers Miss Fremont and Yasini. The next race in the sequence is tougher.

Race 4 is a $10,000 claimer for fillies and mares at six furlongs, and Carava might have the horse to beat in Kachina Dream. A former $40,000 claimer, she was injured last year and returned cheap. The race Thursday is her third start back, all at the bottom claiming level. She ran evenly last time under Martin Pedroza, with little encouragement.

"Martin said she got pretty tired, but he also said she might not like these kind of [synthetic tracks]," Carava said.

Other starters include front-runner Pirate's Charm, the likely pacesetter; Abbey Cat, who sold for $30,000 last fall at Barretts and has steadily regressed; and comebacker Comparacion.

Race 5 is a mile turf race for California-bred fillies and mares. June My Love routinely promises more than she delivers, but she may be favored after a close third last month in a similar spot. She will have to catch Flamingo Princess, who stretches out two turns and switches to grass for new trainer Doug O'Neill. The race Flamingo Princess exits has already produced three next-start winners. Sired by Pine Bluff, Flamingo Princess should like grass.

Race 6 is a $25,000 claimer for 3-year-olds at six furlongs. Class dropper Remember Boffi is the only multiple winner; the 3-for-8 gelding drops from $50,000. His chief rivals include Grylls, Scotts's Poppy, Quityerbellyaching, and Arnone.

Race 7 is a first-level allowance turf sprint for California-bred 3-year-old fillies. Front-runner Spinning Yarns could race gate to wire off her maiden win one back, but Northern California-based Brian's Mark looms the potential upsetter. She has two wins and a second in three starts for trainer Steve Specht. Why ship to Santa Anita?

"It's not because I was looking for turf, it's because it's a Cal-bred one-other-than," Specht said. "She'll handle anything; I don't think turf will be a problem."

Furthermore, Northern California shippers are increasingly dangerous in Southern California. The class disparity between circuits is less severe than it used to be.

"The competition is a little tougher than it used to be 15 or 20 years ago," Specht said of the Northern California horses.

Race 8 front-runner Danny Templeton may be the most probable winner in the pick six. He drops to $25,000 maiden claiming after setting a hot pace on an inordinately slow track last time against $40,000 maiden claimers. He shortens to 5 1/2 furlongs, and should be gone.