08/10/2006 12:00AM

Deep Million means spreading in pick 3

The Tin Man looks like the controlling speed in the Grade 1 Arlington Million.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - One glance at Saturday's Arlington Million field and one thing leaps out: The race is competitive. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the head-to-head matchups between morning-line favorites English Channel and Cacique. They have run against each other three times, with English Channel winning two and Cacique winning one, but neither has beaten the other by more than a half-length.

Throw in the far outside posts they drew for the Million and the possibility of wide trips, and the race looks like one that anyone could win.

This makes it a great race to go deep in a multirace gimmick. Use a couple of price horses as well as the favorites, and hope to catch one that is a decent number. At least, that is my strategy.

With Arlington offering a $1 pick three wager beginning with the race preceding the Million, the Beverly D. (race 8), here is how I plan to play the ticket, in the order the races will be run:

Beverly D.

Gorella, third in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, is a deserving favorite under hot-riding apprentice Julien Leparoux, who delivered a perfectly timed ride aboard Gorella to catch Pomme Frites by a neck in the Grade 2 Just a Game Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 10.

She went off at 3-5 in that race, and needed the entire length of the stretch to catch Pomme Frites. So while the race may have been amazing to watch, Gorella was not necessarily dominant. Pomme Frites is a nice filly, but I don't think many would compare her to either Honey Ryder or Film Maker, Gorella's chief rivals in the Beverly D.

Additionally, Gorella is most experienced as a miler, making me wonder if she will be as effective going the Beverly D.'s 1 3/16-mile distance.

Gorella is the most likely winner, but anything less than 5-2 odds would make her an underlay. For that reason, I plan to go three deep in the pick three beginning with this race, using favored Gorella (1), Honey Ryder (6), and Film Maker (11), who should be around 4-1 or 5-1. I will also play a separate ticket singling Gorella to boost the payoff should the favorite win.

As for Honey Ryder and Film Maker, both have proven to be top-class fillies. Honey Ryder has won 6 of her last 7, and Film Maker, coming off two consecutive graded stakes victories, has been third and second in the last two Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf races.

Arlington Million

English Channel, a two-time Grade 1 winner this year, is the leader of the division, and the most probable winner, though not by much. He and Cacique have shown that they are relatively comparable in ability.

As for where English Channel stands against the Western and European invaders in the Million, we really don't know. So considering that he is drawn outside and that trainer Todd Pletcher seemed to prefer running him in the Sunday's Sword Dancer at Saratoga, I can't help but throw some more horses into the mix.

I'll go four deep, using The Tin Man (2), English Channel (11), Cacique (10), and Ace (3).

At 10-1 on the morning line, The Tin Man is the most appealing prospect in the win pool and is my top choice based on value. He also looks like the controlling speed.

I will also throw in Ace, who is 4-1 odds overseas with the British bookmaking service Coral (down from his 5-1 price on the track line). He seems to be the most highly regarded European horse in the field.

Forward Pass

Although a full field of 12 was entered for this one, I will use only two horses, in great part because I spread a bit in the first two legs.

My top choice is Irene's Mon (12), who has blossomed over the last few months in Kentucky. Since May, he has two wins and a second-place finish, all at Churchill Downs and all in fast time. But because it took him nine starts to exit the maiden ranks - even then at the maiden $50,000 level - my guess is that bettors may view him skeptically.

I think he is legitimate, and he really seems to be at his best closing in elongated one-turn races. He ought to excel running the seven-furlong distance of the Forward Pass, particularly if the race shapes up with a quick pace, as expected.

Off Duty (4), a winner of three of his last four and a game winner over second-level allowance competition recently, will also be on my pick three tickets. He showed heart to edge a good field at Churchill Downs July 16.

The ticket: I'll play a $1 ticket of 1,6,11 with 2,11,10,3 with 12,4, which costs $24. And I'll also play a secondary ticket, singling Gorella in the Beverly D. That $1 ticket of 1 with 2,11,10,3 with 12,4, which costs $8. Total wager: $32.