06/12/2007 11:00PM

My Belmont Day triple crown


PHILADELPHIA - The only thing wrong with the 2007 Triple Crown was that it ended. The three races were so good on so many levels that we all left Belmont Park last Saturday wanting more. Perhaps, we will get more in the Haskell, Travers, and beyond.

Meanwhile, I had a personal triple crown Saturday that can't be topped. It can only be equaled.

It was George Santayana who said: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

I feel confident George had my Belmont Day betting performance in mind.

Do you know anybody who could, over the space of four races, play a pick six, pick four, and pick three and manage to be eliminated on the first leg of each? Like I said, this performance can't be topped. And it wasn't like I was using a lot of singles.

Let us review.

I liked the pick six, and not just because it was a $1 million guarantee. I thought I knew something. I was quickly disabused of that notion. In fact, the longer the card went on, I was disabused of many notions. Turned out I wasn't alone.

The True North Handicap led off the pick six. My main opinion was that favored Bordonaro was vulnerable. His 2007 Beyer Speed Figures were nowhere like the amazing figures he compiled in 2006. But it wasn't a great field, so he needed to be used. I also used several others.

My last horse came down to Will He Shine or Joey P. Even though Will He Shine could do the likely winning figure, I decided the horse had never shown he could beat serious stakes horses. I knew Joey P. never fired outside of New Jersey, but I decided that made no sense. So I settled on Joey P., probably because the gelding's trainer, Ben Perkins Jr., is an old friend. Never let friendships make decisions for you.

Will He Shine came through a wide opening at the head of the stretch and won easily at 10-1, and a little more than a minute into the pick six, I was gone.

So I moved on to the late pick four, starting with the Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup. The first two horses I tossed were Stormello and Teuflesberg. They were beaten a combined 80 lengths in the Kentucky Derby. Still, I figured they would get action because people knew their names. To me, both horses had been mismanaged. I could not use them.

After that, the race was wide open. I was going to use most of the field. When one of my horses scratched, I decided to add one - Stormello or Teuflesberg. Trainer Jamie Sanders was 1 for 5 in 2007 with Teuflesberg and 1 for 110 with the rest of her stable. I tossed Teuflesberg for a second time.

Teuflesberg stumbled at the break and was last. I was even happier I had tossed the horse. Teuflesberg started to move, but steadied on the turn. In the stretch, Teuflesberg roared by the rest of field and won easily, getting a career-high Beyer of 102.

My pick four was gone. No problem.

There was always the pick three, starting with the Acorn. Actually, it looked a like a double with a free space in Acorn favorite Dream Rush. Her last two Beyers were 99 and 103. Not another filly in the field had ever gotten a 90. And Dream Rush was lone speed. This looked like one of the easiest singles in memory.

Dream Rush went right to the front. On the turn, the other jockeys were pushing and shoving while Garrett Gomez was just sitting there on Dream Rush. The fractions were quick, but there was no cause for concern. The chasers, I knew, were simply not fast enough.

So imagine my surprise when Cotton Blossom (career Beyer of 85) came flying through the stretch to run down Dream Rush. Cotton Blossom got a 101 Beyer, improving her career best by 16 points.

And I had that elusive triple crown.

After that, I became a watcher. Seeing the amazing Better Talk Now win the Manhattan Handicap 32 months after he won the Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star was almost as good as cashing a big bet. Almost.

The Belmont Stakes stretch run was why many of us were attracted to the game in the first place. The hope for moments like that keeps us coming back.

We also come back for the chance to hit a pick six that paid $417,207 after all six favorites (at odds of 1-1, 7-10, 9-5, 3-5, 3-2, 11-10) got beat. I had three of the winners. In the three races I did not have, I had the horse that finished second. Which, of course, gives me the idea that I really do know what I am doing, regardless of the evidence.