07/28/2006 11:00PM

Saratoga stakes plays for Saturday, July 29


Saturday's pick six and late pick four at Saratoga include both the Diana and the Jim Dandy, which may make both wagers especially appealing to those who don't usually play them.

This card illustrates the different bankroll requirements of the two bets. The first two legs of the pick six are arguably the two toughest races in the sequence. I would have to go at least four deep in both of them. Add that the pick six has a $2 minimum as opposed to the pick four's $1 minimum, and you could say that it's 32 times more expensive to get the same amount of coverage in the pick six as you would in the pick four. I plan to play both bets myself, but my pick six play will be a lot thinner through the last four races than the pick-four play outlined below because I'm not going to invest 32 times as much in the pick six.

The pick four could well be a short one if favorites Rebuttal, Lady of Venice and Bernardini all win, but I'll be hoping for pick-four purposes that one of them doesn't and that in addition perhaps we can get something interesting to happen in the wide-open finale.

In the first leg, I'll press with the Rebuttal/Saint Anddan entry (#1) but also use Kid Carousel (3) and Half Mask (7).

The Diana presents a problem at this writing because Bill Mot has said he won't run all three of his uncoupled entrants - Angara(2), My Typhoon(7) and Wend(5) - but had not scratched any of them as of 12:30 p.m. Since those are the three I'm using as well as Lady of Venice (6), I'll list them all for now, knowing one of them may come out.

In the Jim Dandy, Bernardini(4) is probably the best horse and the controlling speed and a likely winner at a short price. Even so, I think he'll be somewhat overbet, and the pick four will pay more than it should if he loses because so many people will make him an absolute single. So I'll use him strongly but also include Minister's Bid (1) and Sunriver (2) as backups.

In the finale, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for statebred fillies, I'm not sold on Mohegan Sky(4) as the dominant stickout most public handicappers think she is. I'll include her but as only one of several. Sweet Lil Lolly (2) and Madame Music (6) are my preferred runners but I hope to get alive to Diana Rose (1), Curtana (2) and All You Need (12) as well.

The $324 play below consists two-thirds of a $1 spread ticket using all contenders, costing $216, and $108 worth of additional tickets pressing favored horses and combinations:

$ 1 pick four: 1-3-7/2-5-6-7/1-2-4/1-2-3-4-6-12 $216

$10 pick four: 1/6/4/3-4-6$30

$ 5 pick four: 1/6/4/1-2-12$15

$ 2 pick four: 3-7/6/4/3-4-6$12

$ 1 pick-four: 3-7/6/4/1-2-12$ 6

$ 2 pick four: 1/ 2-5-7/4/3-4-6$18

$ 1 pick four: 1/ 2-5-7/4/1-2-12$ 9

$ 2 pick four: 1/6/1-2/3-4-6$12

$ 1 pick four: 1/6/1-2/1-2-12$ 6

An alternate way to play the same horses with a much smaller investment would be to demand that you be "right" about your top choices in any two of the first three legs. You might then buy the following three tickets for a total cost of only $48:

$1 pick four: 1-3-7/6/4/1-2-3-4-6-12$18

$1 pick four: 1/ 2-5-7/4/1-2-3-4-6-12$18

$1 pick four: 1/4/1-2/1-2-3-4-6-12$12