08/02/2004 12:00AM

Pick six winner collects $2.1M


DEL MAR, Calif. - Winning the San Diego Handicap with Choctaw Nation, and upsetting Pleasantly Perfect in the process, made for a raucous winner's circle celebration on Sunday at Del Mar. But one member of the entourage had his eyes on a bigger prize.

"Forget that, we've got a pick six to win," said Scott Guenther.

On a day of upsets, Guenther had strung together the first five winners of Sunday's pick six. But he still had to get through the final leg, in which he had singled Golden Souvenir, who, like Choctaw Nation, is trained by Jeff Mullins.

Golden Souvenir ($8.20) won like a single should, romping to a four-length victory and bringing Guenther a record California pick six payoff of $2,100,017. The record pick six payoff is $3,068,138.60, which occurred on the Breeders' Cup card at Gulfstream Park on Nov. 6, 1999.

Guenther also had 13 consolation payoffs, each worth $8,230.20, for another $106,992.60.

Guenther came to the winner's circle for the final race, too, and gave winning jockey Victor Espinoza a bear hug.

"I won't hit a race for another two months," said Guenther, who is close friends with Mullins. Guenther, a horse owner who races as Desperado Stable, is part-owner of Buddy Gil, whom Mullins trained to victory in the 2003 Santa Anita Derby.

No one hit the pick six on Friday or Saturday, which resulted in a carryover of $717,343 entering Sunday's card. Another $2,490,228 was bet on Sunday, for a total pool of $3,207,571.

Guenther put in a ticket that cost $1,152. It was the only ticket he played. He used four horses in three races, three horses in two races, and singled Golden Souvenir. Guenther said he owned 80 percent of the ticket, and that three friends split the remaining 20 percent.

The knockout horse for Guenther came in the sixth, a race for 2-year-old maiden California-bred fillies. Guenther used four horses, including the day's bomber, Short Route, who paid $106.20 in her debut.

"I own a piece of Mud Route," Guenther said, referring to Short Route's sire, "but it wasn't a sentimental pick. He is getting some precocious runners. I thought I had to include the horse."

Bill Navarro, Del Mar's director of mutuels, said a post-race review of the pick six tickets showed that Guenther had the only live ticket heading into the day's final race. Had Golden Souvenir lost, there would have been a mammoth three-day carryover going into Monday's races.