05/20/2009 11:00PM

Hot Cha Cha key to start pick four


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - There is not a better card Saturday than the one at Arlington Park. Four stakes, including two graded contests, headline the 11-race program, and linked in a pick four, the stakes races provide an opportunity for horseplayers to go for a rewarding score.

Here is a look at my pick-four tickets and the four stakes, beginning with the first of the stakes, the American 1000 Guineas, which goes as the eighth on the card.

American 1000 Guineas

A one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies, this race drew a field of eight, and with the morning-line favorite Consequence being 5-2, the race might appear to some as evenly matched.

Instead, I see a standout in Hot Cha Cha (No. 3), a former maiden $30,000 claimer who has risen up the ranks to become a graded stakes-winning filly.

Two starts ago, she won the Grade 3 Bourbonette at Turfway over Polytrack despite drawing the outside post, and last time at Keeneland, in her first start on turf, she ran second, beaten a nose by fellow American 1000 Guineas Starter Afternoon Stroll in the Grade 3 Appalachian.

Hot Cha Cha lost little in defeat. Four wide from start to finish, she lost much more ground than the winner and ultimately lost a head-bobbing photo.

Now drawn in post 3, Hot Cha Cha and regular jockey Orlando Mojica have an opportunity to save ground, at least into the first turn. She should be no more than two wide early, with the horse to her immediately inside, Prytania, not having a lick of early speed.

Hot Cha Cha warrants play in the win pool and to be keyed in the pick four, which carries a guaranteed minimum pool of $100,000.

Obsequious (No. 6) and Consequence (No. 7) are back-ups in the pick four.

Arlington Matron Handicap

Morning-line favorite Indescribable (No. 9) won for fun despite a wide trip in the Doubledogdare on Polytrack last month at Keeneland and is the defending champion in this race. She is the one to beat, but she bounced the last time she ran so well, and could do so again.

I will use her, but hope to connect with Kiss With a Twist (No. 2), a two-time synthetic stakes winner who ran third in the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley behind champion Forever Together.

Although Kiss With a Twist enjoyed an easy pace and a smooth trip in her latest, she has been prone to getting wide trips, hiding her ability to some extent. But drawn in post 2, she should now get a good trip.

Indescribable beat her only by a half-length when they met in the Cardinal Handicap last fall on turf, but Kiss With a Twist gets five pounds from her in the 1 1/8-mile Arlington Matron.

Use both in the pick four, and if Kiss With a Twist sticks to her 9-2 morning-line price, she deserves play in the win pool.

Hanshin Cup

Cherokee Artist (No. 2) enters this race on a synthetic roll, having won over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride in a second-level allowance and then on Polytrack at Keeneland in a third-level allowance April 24.

He received just an 87 Beyer Speed Figure for his last effort, but his performance was much stronger than it appears at first glance. He was drawn poorly in post 8, and lost ground throughout, and was devastating in victory in light of his ground loss.

His performance - by my speed figure measurements, which take into account ground loss - was every bit as good as his runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby last year. Having paired up that strong number, he looks ready for another banner effort.

Vacation (No. 5), and Coragil Cat (No. 8) are other accomplished synthetic performers capable of running quickly. They also merit play in the pick four to a lesser extent.

Arlington Classic

The Arlington Classic, at 1 1/16 miles on turf, looks tailor made for Giant Oak (No. 3), who showed his talent with a runner-up finish to Musket Man in the Illinois Derby.

Given how Musket Man subsequently performed in finishing third in the Derby and Preakness, Giant Oak's runner-up finish in the Illinois Derby clearly was a quality effort.

Though he raced on dirt this year, Giant Oak has always struck me as a colt at his best on turf - the surface on which his won a maiden race at first asking at Arlington last year.

I will also use El Crespo (No. 9), who should return to peak form after running 10th on Polytrack in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. He is a much better horse on turf than over synthetic tracks or dirt.

The tickets: I will play a $1 pick-four ticket of 3,6,7 with 2,9 with 2,5,8 with 3,9 - which equals $36.

I will also play $1 pick fours keying - on separate tickets - Hot Cha Cha, Cherokee Artist, and Giant Oak. They are, respectively: 3 with 2,9, with 2,5,8 with 3,9; 3,6,7 with 2,9, with 2 with 3,9; and 3,6,7 with 2,9 with 2,5,8 with 3. The cost for the three-keyed tickets is a combined $42, creating a total wager of $78.