10/09/2002 11:00PM

Keying Ivanavinalot bright idea in pick four


ELMONT, N.Y. - Saturday's Festival of the Sun at Calder features nine stakes and packages the Calder Oaks, Calder Derby, and colt and filly divisions of the Florida Stallion in a tricky pick four.

Last year's theme was essentially the same, except that the Smile Sprint Handicap was substituted for the Derby. Blissful Kiss ($46) trashed most small-scale pick four plays, including mine, when she kicked off the sequence in the filly division of the Florida Stallion. She was followed by second choice Fappie's Notebook ($5.80) in the Smile, third choice Sara's Success ($10.80) in the Oaks, and odds-on Booklet ($3.80) in the male division of the Florida Stallion.

The $1,687 pick four payoff was only slightly higher than the parlay ($1,368), which was somewhat surprising because Jerry Bailey's mounts are usually overbet, and his mounts bit the dust in all four legs: Pharmstar was fourth as part of a 3-5 entry, Bet Me Best was 11th as the 7-5 favorite in the Smile, Platinum Tiara was fourth at 2-1 in the Oaks, and Major Mecke, ran fifth at 8-1 in the Florida Stallion.

Bettors might have avoided elimination in the first leg by casting a net big enough to snare Blissful Kiss. A similar strategy may be the way to go this year, because both divisions of the 2-year-old races have seemingly solid favorites in Ivanavinalot and Lawbook, and the turf races appear wide open. It may pay to try and beat probable favorites Maliziosa (Oaks) and Miesque's Approval (Derby), who are both trained by Bill Mott and will be ridden by Bailey.

Assuming those races remain on the turf, here's the simple strategy:

Oaks (1st leg): Maliziosa is a stone-cold closer who graduated from the maiden ranks on Calder turf last year. Her three wins at age 3 include a couple of ungraded six-figure stakes in the Midwest. The question is whether she's gone off form after three consecutive off-the-board efforts, or has simply been overmatched in tougher spots.

Maliziosa will vie for favoritism with top local filly Cellars Shiraz, but neither one has a significant edge on the other contenders, including Spark Sept, an intriguing European import fresh off a listed stakes win at Longchamp.

Spread with six of them (from the rail out): Cellars Shiraz, Something Ventured, Once Around, Spark Sept, Maliziosa, and Just Scarlet.

My Dear Girl (2nd leg): The Florida Stallion Stakes for fillies has a standout single in Ivanavinalot. She has repeatedly manhandled several members of this field, which also includes a couple of overmatched maidens.

In Reality (3rd leg): The division for males also has a solid favorite in Lawbook, who has won three in a row. He has trained swiftly since pairing up 92 Beyers in August, and should appreciate breaking from the rail in his first two-turn start.

Because it is Lawbook's first route, however, bigger tickets may also want to use Trust N Luck, who has had trouble at the break losing three straight at odds-on, and Mister Deux, who was the only winner from off the pace on the July 31 card at Saratoga.

Beat Lawbook, and you could be on to something big.

Calder Derby (4th leg): Miesque's Approval, Union Place, and Youghal Bay figure to attract strong support, and all have two strikes against them - outside posts and no experience on Calder turf. The Judge Sez Who, meanwhile, has been strictly a dirt horse up to this point, and could simply be a fish out of water on the grass.

So we'll root for chaos to happen here, and also use Z. Frere, a winner over the course; Tammany Star, who may be set for a peak performance third time off a layoff; and Class of Seventy, who has had four of his scheduled turf races switched to the main track since July.

A 6x1x3x7 ticket essentially becomes a $126 win bet on Ivanavinalot.

Smaller-scale bettors who believe in Lawbook's ability to get the route can go 6x1x1x7 for $42, and still root for double-barreled fireworks on the turf.