09/22/2004 11:00PM

Scratch makes pick four playable


POMONA, Calif. - The biggest development in the $200,000-guaranteed pick four Saturday at the Los Angeles County Fair occurred Thursday morning.

The stubborn maiden filly Dame Fame unceremoniously dropped owner-trainer Rosemary Trela during a routine gallop on the five-eighth-mile Fairplex Park track. Thankfully no one was hurt, yet the minor incident carried major ramifications for the track's second guaranteed pick four pool.

Dame Fame was scheduled to start as the odds-on favorite in race 13, the final leg of the pick four, and her perceived dominance in the $20,000 maiden claiming race weakened the bet. Why bother to play if you can't make a score?

It is fine to embrace a favorite if a bettor can take a stand against vulnerable chalk elsewhere in the pick four sequence. But the pick four Saturday included genuine contenders at low odds - front-runner Iflookscouldkill in race 10; Semi Lost, Power Tripper, and Lava Man in the Pomona Derby, race 11; lonely leader Tender Teen in race 12; and odds-on Dame Fame in the final leg. It was one big yawn.

It might be still. But the final leg is not a lock, because Dame Fame will not run. The filly's owner-trainer can take a hint. Trela said Thursday that Dame Fame will stay in the barn Saturday.

"She just can't make it around the turns here," Trela said. "I had reservations anyway, and she dumped me this morning."

Enough was enough. Dame Fame has enough speed to win a maiden race somewhere else, and bettors now face a wide-open race. Thank goodness for at least one tough race in the series.

The pick four Saturday may not pay as much as last weekend's $38,535, but it won't pay peanuts. Time to fashion a ticket. To win the bet, one of two favorites must win - Iflookscouldkill in race 10 or Tender Teen in race 12.

Race 10

Iflookscouldkill is the 5-2 favorite on the track's preliminary morning line. The filly drew the inside post in the one-other-than allowance for 3-year-old fillies, and trainer Doug O'Neill has made it simple.

"Drawing the inside is probably a good thing; it keeps us from overanalyzing," he said. "She's going to come away from there running."

Catch her if you can.

O'Neill said his other entrant, Smart Thoughts, tied up and will scratch. That means also-eligible Free's Lil Lass gets in.

Tender feet have prevented Free's Lil Lass from starting since July 2, and her participation will be a race-day decision, according to trainer Troy Bainum. If she starts, she must be used on backup tickets, because the presence of front-runners Tialinga and Kind Lena suggests that the 6 1/2-furlong race could unfold at a fast pace. Iflookscouldkill has never raced beyond six furlongs.

The main ticket will single Iflookscouldkill, No. 1, while backup tickets will include Tialinga, No. 2, late-running bomber All the B, No. 8, Skippadoo, No. 9, Jerri Lynn, No. 10, and Free's Lil Lass, No. 11. If any of the other three win (Kind Lena, Bit of Folly, or Sumthinbad), the ticket crashes out in the first leg.

Race 11

Backup tickets allow a bettor to be wrong in a race and still cash the bet. In the Pomona Derby, Semi Lost is the class; Power Tripper is the speed; Lava Man is the "now" horse. But how to account for chaos? Sometimes, the unforeseen occurs, and a horse gets taken out on the first turn. Semi Lost is the best horse, but handicapping is not that easy.

"It's not that simple on this bullring," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "You end up at the Ferris wheel or the taco stand, and it's not because your horse can't make the turn."

Semi Lost cornered perfectly in a fast workout 10 days ago, and should win. But he'll have to catch Power Tripper, who could be loose on the lead if new jockey Rene Douglas adapts to the California style of riding and goes right on with it.

The main ticket will use runaway Derby Trial winner Lava Man, No. 3, Semi Lost, No. 6, and Power Tripper, No. 7. The backup ticket will include Cozy Guy, No. 1, We All Love Aleyna, No. 2, Bear in the Woods, No. 4, and Skipaslew, No. 5.

Race 12

How many times will Tender Teen fall short before bettors give up? The 2-1 favorite in the $10,000 starter allowance, Tender Teen has been the beaten favorite in her last four. But on Saturday, she figures to coast on an easy lead. Tender Teen, No. 1, will be a pick four key while the others are relegated to backup status.

Those include Mamacafe, No. 4, Mary Swanson, No. 5, She's Moving On, No. 7, Slew's Jewel, No. 10, and also-eligible Cozy Legend, No. 11.

Race 13

The scratch of the favorite makes this the weakest race in the sequence. It is led by second-time starters Les Rendezvous, No. 2, The It Girl, No. 4, and Award, No. 6. They are the main-ticket plays; backups include Meg's Operator, No. 1, Poppa's Misty, No. 9, Teresa Belle, No. 11, and Lucky Mussell, No. 12.

Time to put it all together.

* The $9 main ticket: 1 with 3, 6, 7 with 1 with 2, 4, 6.

* The $45 first-leg backup: 2, 8, 9, 10, 11 with 3, 6, 7 with 1 with 2, 4, 6.

* The $12 second-leg backup: 1 with 1, 2, 4, 5 with 1 with 2, 4, 6.

* The $45 third-leg backup: 1 with 3, 6, 7 with 4, 5, 7, 10, 11 with 2, 4, 6.

* The $12 fourth-leg backup: 1 with 3, 6, 7 with 1 with 1, 9, 11, 12.

That's it - a $123 play, unless bettors press the $9 main ticket more than once. It probably will not return five figures like last Saturday, but without an odds-on favorite in the sequence, it won't pay peanuts, either.