08/08/2001 11:00PM

How to get 14-1 in just 15 easy lessons

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Persistent wagering on hopeless longshots can provide a certain path to the poorhouse. But try telling that to the crowd that attended the Daily Racing Form free handicapping seminar Aug. 4 at the Brigantine, the picturesque restaurant overlooking Del Mar racetrack.

A handicapper suggested to the live audience, and Internet listeners (www.drf.com), that comebacker Parimac represented an attractive gamble in race 5. Perfectly ridden by Felipe Martinez and trained by Roger Stein, Parimac won by a nose and paid $79.60.

While outsiders such as Parimac spring occasionally, the fact is, obvious contenders win most of the races. This summer at Del Mar. More than 57 percent (92 of 161) of the winners returned under $10, while only 9 percent (15 of 161) returned more than $30.

In the spirit of postrace genius, this story will chronicle and rationalize those $30-plus winners who caught most bettors napping. The examples show the importance of speed and reveal that most longshot wins occur when the favorite misfires, or the longshot has undergone change (this includes making its first start) not reflected in the betting. In the case of Parimac, it was a little of both.

Chatting was the 9-5 favorite despite a negative drop and a nine-month layoff. A $100,000 claiming-race winner one year ago, Chatting was entered for $50,000. Was he the same horse as the year before? Hardly. Chatting might have won anyway, but skeptics perceived him as vulnerable.

Parimac, meanwhile, had been freshened two months. Many consider a break of seven to eight weeks the ideal freshening period, and expect a horse to run his best race following that break. It requires a leap of faith to embrace this unknown factor, but Parimac's speed figures were not far removed from those of second favorite Royal Hill. The freshening worked. Parimac posted a career-best number. He'll never pay $79.60 again. But that won't prevent bettors from looking for more Del Mar bombers like the ones below.

July 18, race 5, Sigfreto, $80.40. Second start since trainer change to Doug Peterson, Sigfreto won the Oceanside in 1.43 seconds slower than second half of turf stakes, in which Sigfreto would have finished sixth or lower. Rationale: second start following barn switch, low-rated race.

July 21, race 3, Salty Helen, $35.80. Off 14 months, Kory Owens trainee caught paceless field in dirt sprint and was gone. The favorite stumbled at the break and finished sixth. Rationale: comebacker, troubled favorite, lone speed.

July 21, race 7, Nikawa, $33.60. Difficult to find, though trainer Bruce Headley showed confidence by not dropping him. The favorite in $20,000 claiming sprint was Christmas Boy, off two years. Rationale: vulnerable favorite.

July 27, race 4, Thewholebag, $67.80. Mike Harrington-trained filly made uncontested lead and wired turf route. Winner was dirt-to-turf; favorite was overbet Neil Drysdale trainee who finished second. Rationale: surface switch, lone speed.

July 27, race 6, Spanish Ranch, $36.40. Second start since trainer change to Warren Stute, and turf-to-dirt, claiming sprinter raced gate to wire while favorite had trouble and was nowhere. Rationale: Second start following barn change, surface switch, troubled favorite, early speed.

July 30, race 8, Dyna King, $122.60. Off five months, maiden got brave on lead in dirt maiden-claimer and was gone. Luis Seglin trainee had earned pace figure in last start that compared favorably. Rationale: comebacker, lone speed.

Aug. 2, race 3, Go On Baby, $33.40. Off seven weeks, Joe Devereux-trained filly won maiden special weight with a dismal 70 Beyer. Rationale: comebacker in dreadful field.

Aug. 2, race 4, Millennium Princess, $44. The ride David Flores gave on Eddie Truman trainee was all the difference. He saved ground, kept her covered, won with a perfect trip. The overbet favorite finished a hanging second. Rationale: perfect trip against vulnerable chalk.

Aug. 2, race 6, Flying Rudolph, $33.60. Another perfect-trip winner in turf route, while odds-on favorite (trained by Drysdale) came up a head short. Goncalino Almeida rode Mel Stute-trained winner, who was first-over on runaway pacesetter. Rationale: perfect trip.

Aug. 3, race 5, Frankie Eyelashes, $51.60. First-time starter, trained by Barry Abrams, in sprint for Cal-bred maiden fillies. Rationale: first-time starter.

Aug. 4, race 5, Parimac, $79.60. (See above). Rationale: comebacker, vulnerable favorite.

Aug. 4, race 8, Mega Gift, $79.60. Difficult to find. Longshot presser dueled favorite into the ground in main-track claimer, and held. Only clue is trainer Seglin was the guy who sprang with 60-1 winner July 30. Rationale: hot trainer.

Aug. 5, race 2, Bid Dere Did Dat, $42.80. Another difficult to find, though 3-year-old sprint claimer was dropping in class and making third career start. Trained by Mag Perez. Rationale: lightly raced dropper.

Aug. 6, race 4, Continental Lu, $32.60. Another Flores-ridden turf winner. Trained by Summer Mayberry, maiden filly was trying grass route for only second time. Favorite was rank, had worked a blistering 57.40 seconds two weeks earlier, finished second. Rationale: improving maiden, jockey switch, vulnerable favorite.

Aug. 8, race 1, Miner's Marquise, $34.40. First-time starter trained by Len Duncan facing even-money favorite with below-par pace and speed figures. Rationale: first-time starter, vulnerable favorite.