01/11/2007 1:00AM

A red-ink pick six hit and other track tales

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ARCADIA, Calif. - A handicapper's notebook fills up fast. Here it is, only the third week of the Santa Anita winter meet and already time to clear out the parimutuel mishmash.

Here we go . . . .

* A San Francisco horseplayer flew in Wednesday to play the $623,111 pick six carryover at Santa Anita. He hit the pick six, but can you believe it? He still lost money. The bettor's giant-sized ticket was deep in almost every leg (6x2x6x6x4x6) and cost $20,736. Unfortunately for him, the sequence was dominated by favorites, and the pick six paid just $18,992. After subtracting $4,478 in withholding and adding 24 consolation payoffs at $113.20 each, the bettor's net return was $18,268.80 Hey, at least he gave it a go.

* Synthetic racing surfaces such as Polytrack and Cushion Track will save the sport. Or so they say. But here's a bizarre fact about the first horse to win a sanctioned race on a synthetic track in North America. Regal Reproach, a 43-start veteran who won the first U.S. race ever run on Polytrack at Turfway Park on Sept. 7, 2005, has not raced since.

* Painted Shadow and Time Squared are 3-year-old stakes horses disguised as maidens. Painted Shadow missed by a neck in his highly rated (Beyer Speed Figure of 88) sprint debut Jan. 1. A Bob Baffert-trained Forest Camp colt, he is a serious sprinter. Time Squared, a Patrick Biancone-trained Fusaichi Pegasus colt, rallied from behind a slow pace Dec. 30 to miss by a neck and earn a Beyer Figure of 84 in a huge debut going two turns. Painted Shadow and Time Squared should win next time, and then run where they belong - in stakes.

* By the way, don't give up on Solicitous, the Dynaformer colt who finished third in a maiden turf route last weekend. Jockey Garrett Gomez told trainer Bob Baffert the colt prefers dirt, and Baffert said Solicitous needed the start, which was his first around two turns. The trainer said Solicitous is a "serious horse." If so, he will win next time long on dirt.

* Horses often do improve after they are gelded. Furioso Star popped at $30.60 Wednesday in his first race as a gelding. Three races later, Rival Islands paid $31.60 as a first-time gelding. The improving Souvenir Evening, winner of a fast allowance on Sunday, has won 3 of 4 since being gelded. And here is another to look for: That's an Outrage will race in a downhill allowance on Sunday, a second-level allowance that will be his first start since being gelded.

* Furioso Star, who earned a 98 Beyer winning a California-bred maiden race Wednesday, is a 4-year-old full brother to Grade 1 sprinter Bordonaro. And by the way, Bordonaro needs a rider for the Sunshine Millions Sprint now that Patrick Valenzuela is out. Here is one vote for Richard Migliore, who gave Furioso Star such a cool ride.

* What do you do with allowance winner Cantabria in the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes on Sunday? She ran the fastest 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track at Hollywood (1:41.61) in her first start on a non-grass surface. Will she transfer the form to dirt? Trainer Bobby Frankel said, "I have no idea. If she does, it's not close." Cushion Track form has held up at Santa Anita, and the feeling is Cantabria will win in a romp.

* Through 11 days of racing, the average field size at Santa Anita was 9.43 starters per race. The big field size is one reason the pick six carried has over five times.

* Two new Breeders' Cup races will cannibalize existing BC races. European shippers Arazi, Johannesburg and Wilko won the BC Juvenile first time on dirt, but they might have run in the Juvenile Turf had it been offered. The BC Sprint also will be weakened. Three fillies (Desert Stormer, Safely Kept, and Very Subtle) have won the Sprint, and fillies were second seven times. The quality of the Sprint will diminish with the addition of the Filly and Mare Sprint.

* Jockey Aaron Gryder's recent improvement has been dramatic. Gryder is working hard in mornings and riding well in the afternoon. His ride Wednesday on class-drop claimer Mama Lula was an example. Gryder rode aggressively, kept Mama Lula in contention even while buried inside and behind runners, rallied along the rail in the lane, and won clear. Other jockeys would have sucked out of such a tight spot. Gryder entered the weekend 8 for 48. His win total will increase with more rides like the one on Mama Lula.

* Midnight Lute's bad trip in the Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 was the worst of the meet. It is important, because he returns Saturday. Midnight Lute broke slowly in the seven-furlong Malibu, rushed up, was wide into the lane, and was beaten two lengths by perfect-tripper Latent Heat. Midnight Lute has one gaping hole in his resume, however. A son of Real Quiet, he has never raced two turns. Will he stay? Find out Saturday in the 1 1/16-mile San Fernando. If so, Arson Squad and Brother Derek are running for second.

* A number of trainers have abandoned Santa Anita to train on the Cushion Track at Hollywood, including Frankel, who has a 35-percent win rate (6 for 17) after 11 days of the meeting. However, Baffert (7 for 29) and Paddy Gallagher (5 for 18) both train at Santa Anita and rank first and third, respectively, in the standings. Guess it means that what matters most is ability of the horse and competency of trainer, not training locale.

* Speaking of trainers, it's about time for Eclipse Award finalist Doug O'Neill to emerge from his 4-for-52 doldrums. But your percentages will always suffer when you run a first-time starter in a stakes race. The O'Neill-trained The Ivan Show made his career debut last weekend in the San Miguel against E Z Warrior. The Ivan Show trailed throughout.