06/27/2002 12:00AM

Pick fours at the Shore are overly generous

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ELMONT, N.Y. - The book tour for "Bet With the Best" rolls on, and the destination this Saturday is Monmouth Park, which is on everybody's short list of favorite racetracks.

CBS's Summer Pick Three begins with Monmouth's Molly Pitcher Handicap at 5:09 p.m Eastern., continues with the Arlington Classic at 5:27, and concludes with Belmont Park's Mother Goose at 5:42.

This bet will certainly ensure properly synchronized post times during the course of the day. That will be in sharp contrast to last Saturday, when there were 51 minutes between Belmont's eighth and ninth live races, yet the ninth still went off simultaneously with the Locust Grove Handicap from Churchill Downs.

Since the activities at Monmouth include a review of the card, I thought it would be a good idea to get out some recent issues of DRF Simulcast Weekly to familiarize myself with any prevailing trends. The main track at Monmouth has always had a speed-favoring reputation. But the first five weeks have produced little in the way of solid evidence to substantiate that notion this season. Speed carried exceptionally well on May 27 but that was on the turf, where all three races were won on the front-end, including a 55-1 upsetter in the Jersey Derby.

Other than that, my track-trend search yielded only an outside closer's bias on May 31, and a speed-favoring bias on June 12, when all but one winner was first or second at the first call.

Relying solely on the result charts, those were the only days where there seemed to be enough evidence to conclude that a bias influenced the results. But as it turns out my time was not wasted, because during the course of the research one item of potentially immense value kept kept popping up. To see what it is, just examine the accompanying chart of Monmouth's pick four results (rounded to the nearest dollar) since opening day. Note that because of a dead heat that produced two payoffs, the June 9 sequence has been omitted.

With the exception of May 30, the pick four has paid more than the parlay would have every day at Monmouth. Usually it's not just a matter of a few dollars either, and in fact the payoffs are often 400 percent or more than the parlays!

At first I began to wonder if there were some misprints in the charts, or if I was somehow hitting the wrong keys on the calculator, because the inflated payoffs have been consistent right down the line, whether they have been low, moderate, or high-end. And the trend shows no signs of abating:

* On the second day of the meet (May 26) three thoroughly plausible winners and a 16-1 shot produced a pick four payoff nearly four times the parlay.

* Five days later, on June 1, a pair of winners at 2-1 linked with a 9-2 and a 6-1 for a payoff of $5,217, almost seven times the parlay.

* On June 5, the pick four payoff was nearly four times the parlay.

* Three days later, on June 8, the payoff slightly exceeded four times the parlay.

* As recently as June 20, three favorites and a third choice produced a staggering payoff of $842 that was nearly six times the parlay.

Of course, few if any players bet four-horse win parlays in the real world, because who wants to bet blind into the last three legs? You can't adjust for changing weather or track conditions, late scratches, or horses who come onto the track looking much better or worse than you expected.

But the benefits sure seem to outweigh those minor inconveniences:

* You're getting premium value, with the track takeout extracted only once on what amounts to four win bets, along with a realistic chance at a meaningful score.

* The bet is on races 5-8 at Monmouth (and on the last four races at Belmont), so there is ample opportunity to factor in any prevailing trends on the main track or the turf course that day.

* Stand-out favorites that are unattractive in the win pool can be used as rock-solid foundations in the sequence. In other words, take a deep breath because you don't have to be all wise-guy all the time.

MONMOUTH: PARLAY VS. PICK FOUR

WINNERS PAID:$2 WIN$2

DATELEG 1LEG 2LEG 3LEG 4PARLAYPICK 4

May 25$5.005.0011.4020.60$733$1,248

May 269.8034.8 2.805.406442,435

May 276.205.0013.804.60246514

May 307.8012.6020.003.80933597

May 3110.803.205.405.40126256

June 115.206.0011.66.007935,217

June 28.205.0020.008.008201,163

June 54.0O 18.4015.806.809883,898

June 66.004.608.004.60127440

June 75.0013.605.607.40352877

June 810.004.408.2013.806222,611

June 1238.406.405.0011.801,8124,507

June 134.006.804.8025.60417667

June 1410.2O 9.808.403.603781,606

June 154.6013.00 12.40 28.402,6329,504

June 166.207.6022.00 5.206731,395

June 196.0013.2040.20 4.801,9103,742

June 2010.00 6.003.605.40146842

June 213.2020.2O 12.403.80380455

June 224.803.4013.8047.001,3233,450

June 236.406.407.8033.401,3333,980