06/08/2001 12:00AM

No big ticket needed in Belmont Pick 4


With so many deep fields loaded with so many contenders in Saturday's Belmont Stakes Day card, not everybody will have enough of a bankroll to make a serious play for the $1 million guaranteed pick six - a $2 bet. Thankfully, Belmont Park is offering a new $1 pick four involving several of the same races. The pick four will give players a chance at a share of a guaranteed pool of $250,000 for what should be a much smaller investment than the pick six.

The guaranteed pick four from races 8-11 begins with the Riva Ridge and also includes the Manhattan Handicap, the Belmont Stakes, and the 11th race, an allowance race at 1 1/4 miles on the turf. Since three of these races feature fields of 8-9 horses, however, a strong attempt at the pick four can be made for a relatively small amount of money.

Race 8 (leg one)

You will want to spread your pick four investment over a large group of contenders in at least one or two races, so therefore it wouldn't hurt to take a stand on one horse in one race in order to bring down the cost of the ticket.

It just so happens that the stand I'm going to take comes right off the bat in leg one of the pick four. The Riva Ridge features a standout bunch of 3-year-old sprinters going seven furlongs, but the standout of the standouts looks like Express Tour, who should relish this cutback to a sprint after tiring to eighth last time out in the Kentucky Derby. Express Tour showed how talented he is in his huge effort to win the UAE Derby earlier this year, and he's been pointed directly for this race ever since the Derby by trainer Saeed bin Suroor of Godolphin Racing.

Express Tour will be a single on my ticket, but if you really don't want to risk being eliminated in the first race, others in here with a shot include City Zip, Flame Thrower, and Put It Back.

Race 9 (leg two)

The next race is the Manhattan Handicap which features filly turf champion Perfect Sting taking on a lackluster field of males. Even against he opposite sex, Perfect Sting looks like a standout. However, it you're lucky enough to have made it past the last race with Express Tour, it wouldn't hurt to put a couple extra horses on your pick four tickets in leg two.

I'd feel better about highweight King Cugat if this race where at 1 1/8 miles, but the Bill Mott trainee has still run well in defeat in both races this year and deserves to be included. Tijiyr, who has beaten King Cugat, and Forbidden Apple, who owns five career wins on this grass course, both could win with their best efforts. The rest of the field looks overmatched.

If you're playing an economy ticket, go ahead and single Perfect Sting and hope for the best. If your playing a deeper pick four, throw in King Cugat, Tijiyr, and Forbidden Apple, as well.

Race 10 The Belmont Stakes (leg three)

Any pick four play in this race should begin with Point Given and Monarchos, but shouldn't end there. An upset in this race could really boost prospective pick four payoffs. The most likely upsetter looks like A P Valentine, who improved to finish second in the Preakness and should like both the distance and track surface in the Belmont. A P Valentine is 2-for-2 at Belmont, and is the only horse in the race with even one win over the track.

Invisible Ink ran a big race for second in the Kentucky Derby, and could enjoy a freshness edge on the others in this field who will be running in all three Triple Crown races. Include him in your tickets and toss in Dr Greenfield as well. The English invader has won two 1 1/4-mile races this year and also owns a win on dirt. He has been pointed to the Belmont all along by the same owners who shipped My Memoirs here and finished second to A.P. Indy in the Belmont in 1992.

Go five deep in this race (Point Given, Monarchos, A P Valentine, Invisible Ink, and Dr Greenfield), and hope the favorites get beat.

Race 11 (leg four)

The final leg of the pick four will be anticlimactic after the Belmont Stakes, unless you happen to still be alive on your ticket.

This 1 1/4-mile turf allowance for non-winners of one-other-than looks top heavy with Megantic, Sharp Performance, and Deputy's Legacy looming as the ones to beat. Use all three horses and best of luck in the pick four.

Suggested pick four plays:

Big ticket: 4 x 4 x 5 x 3 x $1 = $240

Race 8 - 2,4,7,8

Race 9 - 1,2,3,9

Race 10- 1,5,7,8,9

Race 11- 1,3,10

Middle ticket: 1 x 4 x 5 x 3 x $1 = $60

Race 8 - 4

Race 9 - 1,2,3,9

Race 10- 1,5,7,8,9

Race 11- 1,3,10

Economy ticket: 1 x 1 x 5 x 3 x $1 = $15

Race 8 - 4

Race 9 - 2

Race 10- 1,5,7,8,9

Race 11- 1,3,10