12/28/2005 1:00AM

India Halo wheels back vs. boys

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Two Sixty Four and Abel Castellano win Wednesday's Robb Handicap after leading all the way.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - India Halo, the Argentine-bred mare who won the Ladies Handicap here on Dec. 17, will take on males in her next start, Saturday's $75,000 Gallant Fox Handicap at Aqueduct.

Trainer Jimmy Ferraro said the 1 5/8 miles of the Gallant Fox is why he's choosing to wheel India Halo back on two weeks' rest and run her against the boys. Ferraro's other option was to wait for the Affectionately Handicap on Jan. 14.

"That's the main thing," Ferraro said of the distance. "Plus, she's feeling good, she's sharp."

Owner Howard Nolan, the proprietor of Blue Sky Farm, had planned to sell India Halo at auction in November, but she failed to meet her reserve at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, bringing a high bid of $135,000.

Nolan sent India Halo to Ferraro shortly after that sale and India Halo finished fourth, beaten two lengths, in the Real Prize Stakes. Three weeks later, India Halo outfinished heavy favorite Bohemian Lady to win the Ladies by a head.

"I only had her eight days when she ran that day," Ferraro said of the Real Prize Stakes. "Taking everything into consideration, I felt she was going to improve off that race."

Ferraro said India Halo came out of the race well and doesn't need "too much" training heading into the Gallant Fox. Jose Espinoza, who has won three stakes over the inner track this month, will retain the mount on India Halo for the Gallant Fox.

A field of eight or nine is expected for the Gallant Fox, including Navesink River, Classic Endeavor, El Provinciano, Loving, Chilly Rooster, and Potri Cacho.

Two Sixty Four wires Robb

Maryland shipper Two Sixty Four assumed command out of the gate and led every step of the way under Abel Castellano to win Wednesday's $84,875 Alex M. Robb Handicap by 3 3/4 lengths. Naughty New Yorker held off favored Carminooch by a nose for second.

Two Sixty Four, a 4-year-old gelded son of Dance Brightly, was making his first start against New York-breds. It was his fourth victory in his last five starts and seventh from 13 lifetime starts.

Two Sixty Four, owned by Arnold Heft and trained by Rodney Jenkins, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.55 and returned $16 to win.

"If I ever thought we would be in front, today was the day," Castellano said. "We had the inside post and he is quick. I put him on the lead and he was going on the lead so nice. When we got to the quarter pole, he just kept going."

Carryover snapped up as four favorites score

With four winning favorites and two fourth choices, the pick six returned $14,439 to 42 winners Wednesday at Aqueduct. There was a two-day carryover of $183,730 entering the day, the first racing day since Dec. 18.

The winning numbers of 9-1-5-6-1-4 included Prince Raffie ($6), One Tough Dude ($6.50), Vasa ($36.20), Flaming Heart ($5.90), Two Sixty Four ($16), and Show Ready ($3.60).

There were 1,626 consolation tickets (5 of 6) which each returned $86.50.

Board approves new pick four, changes old rules

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board on Wednesday approved a new pick-four wager while making a significant rule change to the traditional pick-four bet.

The new wager, called the Grand Slam, is designed to appeal to the novice racing fan. In the first three legs of the wager, a bettor's horse or horses can finish first, second, or third in order to remain alive. To cash out, the bettor must have the winner in the final leg of the wager.

The Grand Slam, offered as a $1 minimum, is the brainchild of Bill Nader, NYRA's senior vice president. Nader said that the wager - which is likely to debut in February - would be positioned between the pick six and the late pick four.

"This is good for the novice," Nader said. "They can absorb the complexity of a multi-leg bet and understand it easily. It's a bet that people can cash."

Regarding the traditional pick four, the board passed a rule that would keep a ticket alive in the event that a race is moved from the turf to the dirt after the close of betting. The new rule will allow a bettor to be given an "all win" designation for that race, meaning a bettor is assigned a winner no matter which horse he picked. Previously, a bettor would be stuck with the horse he selected for the turf or be put onto the post-time favorite.

Earlier this year, the board passed a similar "all win" rule in regards to the pick six.