10/01/2009 12:00AM

Pick six: Narrow it down to two


ARCADIA, Calf. - "It's a two-horse race, isn't it?" trainer Bob Baffert said.

He was referring to race 6 Friday, a maiden sprint for 2-year-olds in which Baffert second-time starter Macias faces John Sadler-trained second-timer Via Verde.

Baffert and Sadler have dominated the California 2-year-old division this season, which makes it appropriate that the first good special-weight of fall includes two promising maidens from the highest-profile stables.

Yes, race 6 is a two-horse race. And pick-six bettors chasing the two-day carryover ($278,277) can safely get to the next leg by using only Macias and Via Verde.

Baffert was not surprised Macias got beat first out.

"From the inside post, you are giving up two lengths," he said.

It was Sept. 7 at Del Mar where Macias and jockey Garrett Gomez broke last of 11 from the rail.

Macias rushed from 11th to fifth in the opening quarter-mile, he continued his big middle move through the turn, loomed a threat three-wide into the lane, then flattened out late and finished third. It was a huge debut by the son of Purge, who has three good Santa Anita works since raced.

In any normal pick-six sequence, Macias would be a single. But he is not. In fact, at odds of 5-2 he is merely the second choice.

Via Verde is the 9-5 favorite based on an outstanding runner-up debut Sept. 7 at Del Mar. His trip was uneventful, but it was fast.

Facing the odds-on Indian Firewater (a future stakes colt for Baffert), Via Verde pressed the pace three-wide, briefly challenged for the lead into the stretch, and then tired to second. He earned a 70 Beyer, a solid number for a juvenile firster (Macias earned 64).

Sadler-trained maidens typically improve with a race under their belt, and Via Verde ran almost fast enough anyway to win most maiden races. It's a tough call choosing between two talented colts.

So why bother? It's a two-horse race, and pick-six bettors probably need to use both - Via Verde and Macias.