09/02/2005 12:00AM

A pick-four play with price potential


PHOENIX - It's the final Sunday of the Del Mar meet and with it comes a final crack at a $500,000-guaranteed pick four pool. Taking another swing seems in order, and I'm going to attack the pick four in my usual way - taking a key horse in each leg and playing that horse to all the other contenders. That gives me four tickets and the chance to hit the pick four four times. The risk is one of the key horses must win.

Deep, full fields make this pick four particularly attractive. If you're right this time, you're going to make a handy score.

Race 7

This optional $40,000 claiming race has a tough bunch of evenly matched females going a mile. Dolly Wells hasn't run since March but showed enough ability before the layoff to get the call here as my key horse. She can handle the trip and has worked well, though her post, 9, is daunting. Other top contenders include Rey Lake, who sizzled early and gave way in her last race on Aug. 5. She likely needed that race, plus she has speed, is not being dropped too steeply, Pat Valenzuela stays, and she had a big work last Sunday. Miss Valentine, twice third in a couple of long Hollywood Park sprints, did some big things in her native Brazil and may now be acclimated to the United States. Royal Kleven, an also-eligible, comes off a fine second here Aug. 5. Should Royal Kleven not get in, I will use An Annika Moment instead. She comes off a big second when moved back to dirt and this distance.

Key: Dolly Wells.

Contenders: Rey Lake, Miss Valentina, Royal Kleven, or An Annika Moment.

Race 8

This looks like a sensational renewal of the Del Mar BC Handicap at a mile on turf. Three Valleys is the key horse. Not only was he a top-class miler in Europe, but last fall he was a super third to top-class Leroidesanimaux in the Grade 1 Citation at Hollywood Park. He didn't resurface until July 24 at Del Mar, when he powered home a winner. A big field here means there are hurdles - so others also bear watching. Whilly recently chased some of the world's best horses in the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million and might prefer this shorter distance. Toasted hasn't run in a while but appeared destined to be top-class a year ago. Tsigane is a tough-as-nails runner who just won the Wickerr here July 30 at this same distance. Last is Geronimo, who gave Tsigane all he could handle in the Wickerr.

Key: Three Valleys.

Contenders: Whilly, Toasted, Tsigane, and Geronimo.

Race 9

This $20,000 claimer at six furlongs is another tough race. Sabalucious knows how to win and comes off a strong second over the track. He was claimed by Jeff Mullins (41 percent winners first off a claim) and moves up two levels despite being out of claiming jail. That's a potent angle. Contenders runs deep, however. Pepper Trail and Retirees Three recently finished a neck apart in a strong sprint at this same level and figure tough again. Barron H had a wide run in only his second start after a few months off and was claimed by Art Sherman, who, like Mullins, is dangerous off the claim (35 percent). Grey Misty looked great beating lesser here. He was claimed. Charmer Baron might be the knockout as he goes first time off the claim for Ron Ellis, who is winning at 41 percent this meet.

Key: Sabalucious.

Contenders: Pepper Trail, Retirees Three, Barron H, Grey Misty, and Charmer Baron.

Race 10

Carbonator figures to get few chances better than this $25,000 maiden claimer at seven furlongs. He recently lost by a head in a super effort routing against similar foes on Aug. 4, ending up seven lengths clear of third. He moves back to seven furlongs here and has shown he is more than capable at this trip. He's my key. There isn't much other talent here. Century Man ran decently in his debut and resurfaces after almost two months off for trainer Clifford Sise, who wins 27 percent of the time with a second-time starter. Snolly Goster ran poorly routing for twice this tag. He's back to a sprint and back to a better level, one at which he was a closing fourth Aug. 3. He has also had a bullet four-furlong work in 46.20 seconds on Aug. 25.

Key: Carbonator.

Contenders: Century Man, and Snolly Goster.

Putting all these horses on one ticket would cost you $360 for a $1 bet (4x5x6x3). Using my method of keying my main horse in each race to all the others comes up like this: ticket 1 costs $90 (1x5x6x3), ticket 2 costs $72 (4x1x6x3), ticket 3 costs $60 (4x5x1x3) and ticket 4 costs $120 (4x5x6x1) for a total outlay of $342, which is cheaper than putting all horses on one ticket and gives me a chance to hit the pick four four times instead of once.