06/28/2004 12:00AM

Focus falls on pick six carryover

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With the Independence Day weekend comes the traditional trio of six-figure stakes races that signals the end of another Churchill Downs spring meet: the Firecracker, Debutante, and Bashford Manor.

But when the meet's final six-day stretch begins Wednesday, the focus will be on big money of another sort: the kind that horseplayers can take home for themselves.

Wednesday's card not only marks the finals of Churchill's weekly handicapping contest, which has $10,000 in cash prizes and two berths in the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship at stake, but also has a pick six jackpot that figures to settle in at about $200,000.

After carrying over for the fourth time on Sunday, the pick six pool stands at $69,093, a number that typically will triple following the two-day break that precedes a Wednesday card. The pick six, a $2 minimum bet, runs from races 5 through 10. Here is a brief look at each race:

Race 5: If can leverage his outside post and subtle class drop, then this one could be over by midstretch. If not, then throw it wide open by giving strong consideration to the likes of Beau Jackson, A Beautiful Heart, and Bondsman.

Race 6: Steve Asmussen appears to hold the strongest hand in this full field of 2-year-old maiden claiming fillies with the uncoupled duo of . If not Asmussen, then start digging deep.

Race 7: This race could force serious players to go six or seven deep, with the most plausible selections being , Satine Rouge, and Six Ribbons.

Race 8: and Riddlesdown have spent their careers on and around the fringes of tough turf stakes, and if either brings his "A" game today, the pickings here become greatly simplified. But if so, which one? And if not, then who?

Race 9: Nominal feature gets several formful players amid a small field, including , bidding to become a three-time winner at the meet, and Strength Within, who has been threatening to break through the third-level allowance condition that governs this $56,700 route.

Race 10: Likely favorites in the main body of this maiden turf race include , Cape Town Lass, and Kristy Beethoven, but there aren't many easy throwouts. One of the longer prices could help clinch a carryover to Thursday for a potential jackpot of $500,000 or more.