07/09/2009 11:00PM

Making multi-race wagers as easy as A-B-C


ELMONT, N.Y. - DRF Formulator's new TicketMaker feature will get a lot of test drives Saturday as handicappers tinker with Steve Crist's ingenious A-B-C algorithms to discover the most precise and cost-efficient ways to approach multi-race exotics across the nation:

* At Belmont, the $500,000 Man o' War kicks off an all-turf pick four with a $350,000 guarantee.

* All-stakes pick fours are on tap at Arlington Park on Million Preview Day and at Calder Race Course's Summit of Speed.

* At Hollywood Park, a $300,000-guaranteed pick six includes an insanely wide-open renewal of the Hollywood Gold Cup.

The weather forecast on Long Island called for a chance of late-afternoon thunderstorms, so the Man o' War was moved up to race 7, with a post time of 4:12 p.m.

If the weather permits, the last three legs are turf sprints, including the Lottsa Talc, an overnight stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares in which three contenders with "A" potential are all trained by Linda Rice (who else?).

The Man o' War drew a deep field that includes four of the top seven turf horses on the Watchmaker Watch - Gio Ponti, Midships, Grand Couturier, and Dancing Forever - as well as Group 1 winners Quijano (Italy) an Marsh Side (Canada).

Under the allowance conditions of the Man o' War, Chinchon, who was beaten in a photo in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly last out, gets up to seven pounds from his more accomplished rivals. He might rate at least "B" status along with the well-travelled 7-year-old Quijano, who won 10 races in a row in Germany and Dubai during a stretch from April 2006 to March 2007. Both of these European invaders have received Racing Post Ratings right around 115 on a regular basis, and it's worth noting that Midships, who is seeking his fourth straight Grade 1 or Grade 2 victory in the United States, was rated only as high as 104 overseas.

In the Lottsa Talc, Weathered is a multiple stakes winner on dirt and has been idle since settling for third as the favorite in the $250,000 Sugar Maple, a two-turn sprint at Charles Town on April 18. She has the look of an "unofficial" main-track-only entrant, in a spot where Linda Rice's uncoupled trio of Meriwether Jessica, Canadian Ballet, and Mohegan Sky rate a clear edge based on their best turf sprints.

The Grade 3 Arlington Handicap anchors an all-turf-stakes pick four in Chicago. Those who will deserve consideration as "A" contenders include Stream Cat and Cosmonaut, who have won the last two runnings; Silverfoot, a two-time stakes winner over the course and fourth in the Arlington Million last year; and Just as Well, second in both the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and the Dixie earlier this season.

If six-furlong dirt sprints are your thing, Calder's sequence of the Azalea, Carry Back, Princess Rooney, and Smile Sprint Handicap are just the ticket - or, more efficiently, tickets.

You can probably get through the Azalea with Underground, Royal Card, and Kays and Jays, but the key, as is often the case, lies in the A-B-C rankings that ultimately determine how much emphasis is placed on each of the contenders.

The Carry Back is more problematic, with You Luckie Mann (97), Truest Legend (99), Prince Joshua (96), and Not for Silver (96) evenly matched on their latest Beyer Speed Figures, while the lightly raced and improving Ask Joe (91) isn't far behind.

The Princess Rooney became more wide open when Indian Blessing was scratched; a win by any of the eight remaining fillies and mares would not be termed a big surprise.

The strongest-looking "A" is Benny the Bull, who capped a perfect 4-for-4 season and an Eclipse Award by winning last year's Smile. The unretired 6-year-old appeared as good as ever finishing second to Fabulous Strike in the True North on Belmont Stakes Day and has been pointed to a defense of his title.

Here are some key elements to consider for the 70th running of the venerable Hollywood Gold Cup, which, if all start, will have its largest field in 37 years and might well be a candidate for TicketMaker's "All" feature:

* The Beyer par (since the figures have been available in the early 1990s) is 114, but in this case, the best last-out figure, a 104, belongs to Tres Borrachos, who is 3 for 17 and coming off a second-level allowance win.

* Mast Track, who wired the field last year but has been off form since last fall, is one of two entrants to have won at 10 furlongs. The other is the 8-year-old gelding Magnum, who is 1 for 12 since winning the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap in May 2006.

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