12/05/2001 12:00AM

Nix my two front teeth - all I want is Billy Patin!


PHILADELPHIA - Here are a few things that would be nice to see in 2002.

A Kentucky Derby not run on a highway. If this is race really so important, why isn't it just as important to make certain the surface is not like the Bonneville Salt Flats?

A match race between Xtra Heat and Hallowed Dreams, set at a bush track in Louisiana. The only betting allowed will be head to head between all those Bayou sharpies and me. They can have their filly. I'll take the Heat.

A great 3-year-old that becomes a great 4-year-old. Just when it was becoming obvious to even the clueless that Point Given was a rare talent, he was gone.

A great 4-year-old that becomes a great 5-year-old. Just when it was becoming obvious - even to someone as clueless as me - that Tiznow was a rare talent, he was gone.

A horse that runs three consecutive Beyers of 120 or better. Where have you gone Formal Gold?

An edict by someone in charge that no uninjured Grade 1-caliber horse can be retired without at least 25 starts. Didn't this used to be horse racing?

An end to all those acronym racing groups. Even those of us who follow the sport do not know the difference between the NTRA, the TRA, the HBPA, the TBA, the TOBA, and all the rest of them. Imagine what the fans must think, if they think about it all. (It may have escaped everyone's notice, but the NFL. NHL, and NBA seem to be getting along just fine without 40 acronyms. Baseball? That's another story entirely. Maybe, baseball commissioner Bud Selig can help horse racing after he has solved all of baseball's problems. He would fit in perfectly.)

A trainer caught using illegal drugs who admits guilt and doesn't claim environmental contamination. (Is it really possible that every positive ever called was the result of a. sabotage; b. testing incompetence; or c. an accident?)

An end to the debate on medication policy. Again, the bettors don't care because they think everybody is cheating.

A new medication policy. Anything goes. You want to try it. No problem. You get caught. No problem. Just make sure to have a nice day.

An end not only to handicap races, but also to weight carried. All jockeys just show up and ride. No scales. No hot boxes. No flipping.

An end to all racing analysts discussing the issue of weight. If someone can prove any relation to weight carried and performance, please call 1-800-IMPOSTS and be prepared with charts and graphs to support your unsupportable position.

More jockeys and trainers who spend less time worrying about stuff they can't control and more time on things they can, such as taking advantage of tactical edges that are obvious to everybody in the grandstand.

A Triple Crown winner.

A Triple Crown winner in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

A Triple Crown ride for Billy Patin.

Billy Patin.

One or more triple digit pick sixes for me.