12/26/2008 12:00AM

Six-figure pool no easy score


STICKNEY, Ill. - Not to suggest that winter handicapping at Hawthorne Race Course has become somewhat tricky, but 20 racing programs have passed since anyone hit the pick six at Hawthorne.

And even though the Hawthorne pick six does not attract much play on a day-to-day basis, the carryover pool for the bet has grown to $227,137 for Friday's 10-race card. Jim Miller, Hawthorne's assistant general manager, said he expects $500,000 to $750,000 more to be bet into the pick six on Friday, making chilly Hawthorne a flash point for Friday racing action.

Favorites have won at a healthy 36-percent clip this meet, but with frozen tracks, thawing tracks, and a large contingent of maidens and lower-level claimers, Hawthorne racing has shifted into a somewhat chaotic zone.

And the six pick six races - beginning with race 5 - on Friday are just about difficult enough to fry your brain.

The first leg in the sequence is a $15,000 maiden claimer that looks fairly manageable, and players seeking a single might land on Runningatem in race 6, an entry-level allowance sprint. Runningatem, trained by Chris Block, beat Illinois-bred maidens in her most recent start, which is not exactly reassuring, but she won by more than five lengths in just her third career race, and has come back to post two solid-looking workouts.

That's form that begins to look solid once one heads into the later races. Races 7-10 all drew full fields of 12 with at least one also-eligible. Two are $5,000 conditioned claimers, another an open $4,000 claimer, leading to the grand finale - an inscrutable Illinois-bred $10,000 maiden claimer.

Karlsson moves to top spot

With 13 scheduled race days left this Hawthorne season, apprentice jockey Inez Karlsson, who stands a chance of winning an Eclipse Award for 2008, has moved into first place in the Hawthorne rider standings. Karlsson passed Chris Emigh last week, and enters Friday's action ahead of Emigh, 62-58.

Karlsson, a native of Sweden and a former amateur boxer, began her riding career just last year.

* Hawthorne wasted no time in canceling races on Sunday, when the temperature barely was above zero, and the wind chill in the -20 degree range. The temperatures was forecast to be in the mid-30s for Friday's races, however.