08/03/2006 11:00PM

It's raining longshots at the Spa

Court Folly wins the Amsterdam at 10-1, one of 23 winners early at the Saratoga meet to go off at 6-1 or higher.

And now I am at the point of not knowing the outcome of things once again, a frame of mind that pleases me- "The Sportswriter," by Richard Ford

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Through the early stages of Saratoga 2006, meteorologists and public handicappers are having a tough time making an easy living.

A history-making heat wave spawned impromptu mid-afternoon squalls last July 28 and 29 that wreaked havoc with everyone's best-laid handicapping plans. On Wednesday, a brutal heat index of 107 forced the cancellation of a full card for the first time in 138 years at the fabled Spa.

Those who watched the local forecast before retiring on Thursday night were advised of the chance for a stray passing shower, and woke up Friday to a downpour that brought the count to eight of 31 scheduled grass races moved to the main track thanks to Mother Nature.

The racing has been equally unpredictable. Although odds-on favorites won five of 10 times through the first seven racing days, Songster was upended in Monday's Amsterdam Stakes at 15 cents to the dollar; the Grade 1-placed Karen's Caper ran fourth at 1-2 in a second-level allowance; and Scat Daddy was life and death to run down 13-1 upstart Teuflesberg in the final yards of the Sanford at a miserly 3-10.

Overall, the chalk staggered - sometimes literally - through the first seven racing days to win 17 of 66 races, a mere 25.7 percent. Meanwhile, 23 winners got away at 6-1 or better. For purposes of comparison, the corresponding period last year produced 13 such good things.

Here is a summary of the redeeming virtues of the 23 winning longshots, listed in chronological order with payoffs in parentheses:

Busters Rodeo ($53.50): Second off a layoff, turf to dirt for trainer Bobby Barbara ($3.92 return on investment with that surface switch), and early speed. Still can't believe I sliced him from a pick four spread.

Samsincharge ($25.40): Turf to dirt and route to long sprint after battling for the lead to the stretch at 1 1/8 miles.

Cotton Blossom ($18.60): How do you get 8-1 on a trainer Todd Pletcher-rider John Velazquez 2-year-old that won his only other start by open lengths at 2-5?

Brilliant Cut ($24.20): Off the board at 2-1 in two dirt sprints; stretched out on grass after a bullet work on turf.

Cool the Economy ($18.60): Maiden winner was the 3-1 second choice in the Astoria start prior.

Commander Matt ($21.80): His 79 Beyer Speed Figure two back equaled the best number anyone in the field had run in months.

Mascot ($20.80): Merely validated the improved form shown in a pair of grass races downstate, capped by a front-running mile win.

Sixth Rockets ($39.80): Hugged the rail on both turns and handled a rise in class after winning he first-level allowance condition at even money.

Distinct Pleasure ($31.60): First-time starter showed two workouts from the gate, one of them a bullet and the other second-fastest of 35.

Ada's Diamond ($70): Turf to dirt, and a switch to apprentice Julien Leparoux, whose five winners opening week averaged a $28.40 payoff.

Deeds Not Words ($27.20): Made her first start since January for Flying Zee Stables (the leading owner at Saratoga last year), with a switch to Leparoux.

Planets Aligned ($29.20): Not a bad price for a horse coming off a win in the same company. Mythical Conquest (6-1) completed $240 exacta, linking horses with the best last-out Beyers.

Hesanoldsalt ($28.80): Third back from a layoff, dropped to an allowance after running in five stakes following maiden and first-level allowance wins.

Harmony Hall ($19.80): Class-dropper made it six wins from 13 wet-track starts.

Got a Glow ($16.60): Second-time starters routinely improve; this one did.

Twilight Gallop ($26.60): Chalk up another win for the top last-out Beyer horse.

Just in Fun ($66.50): Now 2 for 4 at Saratoga and 1 for 16 elsewhere.

Fast n Ready ($27.80): Churchill shipper dropped from a maiden special in slop; sire More Than Ready won stakes here at 2 and 3.

Baxter ($88): There were no whispers on this new shooter.

Court Folly ($22): Pace made the race in the Amsterdam when this Kentucky shipper trailed eight lengths off a 44.38 half-mile and wore down Songster.

College Girl ($18.40): Last fast-track Beyer (three races back) was second-fastest of anyone in the field; dropped from allowance to $35,000 claiming.

Peg's Prayer ($14.80): Artistic Express had the best turf Beyer (sprinting), but Peg's Prayer had the best turf Beyer routing, and she prevailed over 58-1 bomb Follow My Dream as Artistic Empress wilted late.

How many did you have? Rate your score:

0: See you at the ATM

1: Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every so often

2-3: Treading water

4-6: Reading all those DRF Press books has really helped

7-9: Who's better than you, big guy?

10+: Reading this online as you cruise around the world.