10/01/2004 11:00PM

Dueling pick-fours each attract large handles

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ELMONT, N.Y. - The popularity of the pick-four wager was never more evident than on Saturday when a pair of wagers consisting of basically the same races handled more than $1.2 million.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, with a guaranteed pool of $400,000, included three Grade 1 races from New York and the Yellow Ribbon from Santa Anita. The wager handled $718,822.

At Belmont, the New York Racing Association offered a pick-four - with no guaranteed minimum pool - on its four Grade 1 stakes. The wager handled $534,654.

The NTRA pick four returned $359.50 for a $2 bet. The winning combination of 6-5-1-7 consisted of Pico Central ($6.40), Kitten's Joy ($6.80), Light Jig ($4.60), and Funny Cide ($7.60).

The NYRA pick-four returned $1,394 for a $2 bet. The winning combination of 9-6-5-7 consisted of Riskaverse ($19.40), Pico Central, Kitten's Joy, and Funny Cide.

On Sept, 22, when NYRA offered a guaranteed pick four pool of $400,000, the total bet was only $358,038. Bad weather and short fields caused the shortfall, according to NYRA officials.