02/12/2004 12:00AM

Magna 5 has two singles

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Handicappers involved in this weekend's Kentucky Derby Future Wager will have to wait until Derby Day on May 1 for a potential payday.

Those looking for a shorter-term payoff also have opportunities this weekend - such as the Magna 5. The multiple-race bet is back again Saturday, once again with a $500,000 guaranteed pool.

This week's bet includes the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie from Laurel Park and the big races for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream, the Hutcheson and the Fountain of Youth.

Those races are intriguing for those following the Derby trail, but first things first - here's a look at the bet in the order in which the five races will be run.

Leg One - Barbara Fritchie, Laurel, race 9

Most of the entrants are fillies and mares who have been running in $50,000 to $100,000 stakes races in Maryland, and few have major graded-stakes experience.

I don't have a strong opinion regarding who I like - only who I don't. Bear Fan, a Southern California shipper, will likely be overbet following a troubled trip when third at 3-2 odds in one of the Sunshine Millions stakes races at Santa Anita on Jan. 24.

She acts like a quality mare, but she figures to be overplayed in both the win pool and the pick five.

My concern is that she has raced exclusively in California, where the conditions are dramatically different from those in Maryland in mid-February.

I plan to go four deep in this race, trying to connect with a midpriced horse. The choices are Balmy, Bronze Abe, Gazillion, and Shiny Sheet.

Leg Two - Hutcheson, Gulfstream, race 10

Lion Tamer won this race last year, with Scrimshaw third and Cajun Beat last among the six starters. Scrimshaw would later finish third in the Preakness, and Cajun Beat went on to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

There are several bright up-and-comers in this year's race, but I am not convinced they are ready to defeat two accomplished sprinters of the quality of Limehouse and Wynn Dot Comma. Those horses have excellent one-turn records, and both hail from red-hot stables.

Leg Three - Golden Gate, race 4

Maidens are up next, where a single looms. Trieste's Honor, a Southern California invader, comes off a deceptively good sixth-place finish in one of the best maiden races of the year.

Trieste's Honor last ran Jan. 18 at Santa Anita, finishing more than 15 lengths behind victorious Quintons Pash Rush. That horse appears destined for stakes, and the ones that chased him are also talented.

Early returns from horses exiting this race have been positive. Runner-up Wimbledon came back to crush maidens Feb. 8 at Santa Anita, and seventh-place finisher Plenty of Heat returned to win a maiden $62,500 claimer at Santa Anita on Feb. 6.

Now Trieste's Honor faces a maiden special weight field at Golden Gate that is at best as good as a maiden $62,500 claimer at Santa Anita.

He'll be a single on my tickets, although players wanting a larger ticket may also wish to consider Mazurka Dancer, a half-brother to 1996 Kentucky Derby runner-up Cavonnier.

Leg Four - Santa Anita, race 5

Contention runs deeper in this race, a $25,000 claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs. I plan use three horses: Pavlovsk, Diamond Hope, and Damn the Torpedoes.

Pavlovsk and Diamond Hope are attractive from a class standpoint, having raced competitively at or above the $25,000 claiming level. Damn the Torpedoes, recently second vs. $25,000 stock, makes his first start for trainer Mike Mitchell, who is winning at a 34-percent rate with first-after-claim runners.

Leg Five - Fountain of Youth, Gulfstream, race 11

The last-race performance by Second of June was striking. But that victory came in the Holy Bull, a race that is generally much easier to win than the Fountain of Youth.

Even following a layoff dating back to Nov. 29, Read the Footnotes is my choice. He won the Remsen last fall by 3 3/4 lengths over Master David, recent winner of the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.

Year after year, the Remsen foreshadows which horses will develop into top 3-year-olds. Derby winners Thunder Gulch and Go for Gin won the Remsen in the 1990's.

By singling Read the Footnotes, I can keep the cost of my ticket fairly low. Using four horses in the first leg, two in the second, one in the third, three in the fourth, and Read the Footnotes in the last, my total cost for the $2 Magna 5 is $48.