07/05/2001 12:00AM

Kona Gold burns up track: 56.60!


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Any doubts surrounding the way Kona Gold is training were answered emphatically on Thursday when last year's champion sprinter blazed five furlongs in 56.60 seconds at Santa Anita.

Trainer Bruce Headley was not surprised at the final time, which was nearly two seconds faster than any of the other 28 works at the distance.

He described the workout as vital in Kona Gold's preparation for the $200,000 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar on July 22. Kona Gold has not started since winning the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita on April 1.

"I thought he might shave 57 [seconds] because I've built him up to this workout," Headley said. "I gave him a 59 last week to tighten him. This is his most important work. He went the first three-eighths in 32.80 seconds.

"It was fantastic. When you run against the best and you have a layoff, you better work fast then."

Headley said Kona Gold will work next week in "around a minute or 1:01, just to loosen up off this" before shipping to Del Mar. "He'll have a blowout down there four days before the race," Headley said.

A winner of six consecutive stakes, including last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, Kona Gold will have two more starts before this year's Sprint at Belmont Park on Oct. 27, Headley said. Following the Bing Crosby, Kona Gold will return in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicapat Santa Anita in early October.

"I've followed the exact same schedule as last year, with workouts and everything," Headley said. "He's a horse that you can be pretty secure with. He's so easy to gallop. He doesn't try to run off and act silly. In his works, you can do anything you want - from 1:06 to 56."

40 players share big pick six

A 14-1 longshot combined with five first or second betting choices to create a pick six payoff of $57,728.40 for 40 ticketholders on Wednesday.

The only race that fooled bettors was the American Handicap, won by Takarian ($30.40). Beginning in the fifth race, the winners of the pick six races were Before and After ($6.60), Casino Star ($8.80), Dynamistic ($9.20), Flags at Dawn ($5.80), Takarian, and High and Rising ($6.20). Before and After, Flags at Dawn, and High and Rising were favored.

Interest was high in Wednesday's pick six following a record one-day carryover of $691,095 from Sunday's program, which featured a guaranteed $1 million pool. An additional $2,895,885 was bet into the pool on Wednesday.

McCarron picks up Swaps mount

Chris McCarron will ride Until Sundown, the winner of the Affirmed Handicap on June 17, in the $500,000 Swaps Stakes on July 15. The mount came open when Gary Stevens opted to ride Congaree, the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, in the Grade 1 Swaps for 3-year-olds.

On Thursday, McCarron worked Until Sundown five furlongs in 58.40 seconds at San Luis Rey Downs in Bonsall, Calif., the training center where the colt's trainer, Laura de Seroux, is based.

"He worked behind his leader and blew 'em away," de Seroux said. "He's ready."

Congaree, who won the Wood Memorial and was third in the Preakness Stakes, will be heavily favored in the Swaps, which is also expected to include Bayou the Moon, Jamaican Rum, and Top Hit.

De Seroux said that Congaree will contribute to the pace in the Swaps, and a solid pace is what Until Sundown needs. She also was encouraged by McCarron's comment Thursday.

"After Chris worked him, he said, 'Congaree and Until Sundown may be the exacta, but you better box it,"' she said.

Until Sundown won his first graded stakes in the Affirmed, which was run over 1 1/16 miles. The Swaps is run over 1 1/8 miles.

"He didn't look like he'd had a race when he was coming out of the receiving barn [after winning the Affirmed]," de Seroux said. "We don't feel like he's reached his peak."

More frequent flyer miles

Kent Desormeaux, who through Wednesday had ridden one winner since returning from Japan on June 24, is traveling extensively in the next week.

On Sunday, he rides Sumitas for trainer Bobby Frankel in the $150,000 Caesar Rodney at Delaware Park. Next week, he rides in a Group 1 stakes in Japan on Thursday, which will keep him away from Hollywood until the following weekend.