02/23/2004 12:00AM

Magna 5 pays $8,960

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With short-priced favorites scoring in the first and last legs, the $2 Magna Pick 5 returned $8,960 to 53 ticket-holders on Saturday, the second-highest payoff in the four-week history of the bet.

The bet requires players to pick winners from five races at tracks owned by Magna Entertainment Corporation.

Saturday, the bet was made easier for many players with the success in the first leg by Gelli ($2.80) at Laurel and in the last leg by Kitten's Joy ($3.20) in the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

In between, finding winners was more difficult, with three longer-priced horses winning at three tracks. Morine's Victory ($16.80) won the second leg at Gulfstream, Why Have a Plan ($31.80) won the third leg at Golden Gate Fields, and Third Half ($8.60) scored in the fourth leg at Santa Anita.

Saturday's handle of $608,823 was the highest in the bet's four-week history and easily surpassed the $500,000 guaranteed by Magna.