08/16/2006 12:00AM

Free's Del Mar plays for Thursday, August 17

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Wednesday was a day for some real clever handicapping.

The forecast that suggested the favorites were vulnerable in the Green Flash Handicap was perfectly correct. Thor's Echo finished fourth; Carthage finished nowhere.

The forecast that suggested speedball Fast Parade could fire first start back, or Railroad could win from behind, was perfectly correct. Fast Parade won the Green Flash Handicap and paid a healthy $12.20.

But sometimes a bettor is too clever for his own good. The suggested plays Wednesday were Fast Parade at 6-1 or Railroad at 7-2. You saw what happened.

Railroad missed the cutoff and at only 5-1; Railroad started above the cutoff at 4-1. The bet was made on Railroad, who finished fifth. Fast Parade scampered to a three and a quarter-length victory without a penny on him.

Real clever. On to Thursday.

Race 1

The favorites in this maiden-claiming sprint have faults. Commander Gary (5-2 favorite) has lost seven times at the level; Chief Cocca (7-2 second choice) faces a host of pace pressure.

It is a good spot to back a new shooter such as Rockin Ronbo (5-1). The first-time starter's work pattern suggests he was well prepared before arriving in Southern California, and a recorded work last August at Canyon Breeze Training Center in Utah hints at the possibility he has racing experience on the bush circuit.

Trained by Jeff Mullins, Rockin Ronbo can spring an upset first time out and is worth backing at 3-1 or higher.

The bet: $20 win Rockin Ronbo (minimum odds 3-1), and a $10 daily double Rockin Ronbo to Stormy Passion in race 2 (same minimum odds on Rockin Ronbo).

Race 6

Dew Drop is 12-1 on the program, but if she reproduces last year's Midwest form, she can upset this N2X filly-mare sprint. She returns to dirt for her second start of 2006, two of her three dirt races last year are fast enough, and trainer Paulo Lobo sprang a $46.60 upset Friday in race 1.

Dew Drop can be backed at 6-1 or higher.

The bet: $20 win Dew Drop (minimum odds 6-1). If race-1 starter Rockin Ronbo does not meet minimum odds, increase the wager on Dew Drop to $50.

Back on Friday.

Total wagers previous day: $50.
Total return previous day: $0.
Total win/loss previous day: minus $0.

Total wagers for meet: $850.
Total return for meet: $0.
Total win/loss for meet: minus $900.