01/12/2006 12:00AM

Snowdrops a worthy single in pick four

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Ryan McAlinden/EquiPhotos
Two Down Automatic makes his first start since November in Saturday's Duncan Kenner BC.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Saturday's card at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs, which includes four stakes, is being billed by the track as the "Road to the Derby" kickoff day. But as I see it, the path to hitting the all-stakes pick four lies not with a Derby horse, but with a female turf runner.

Snowdrops, coming off a 2005 campaign in which she won three stakes, is a deserving single in the Grade 3 Bayou Breeders' Cup, the eighth race and the third leg of the pick four, which is being offered with a $100,000 guaranteed pool.

As for the other races, which include the Risen Star for 3-year-old males and the Silverbulletday for 3-year-old fillies, contention runs deeper. Here's a look at the stakes, and my pick-four ticket:

* Sixth race, the Duncan Kenner Breeders' Cup at six furlongs: This is a puzzling race, with seven of the nine entrants coming off layoffs. Most of the horses last raced in the fall, but Beau's Town and Top Commander - uncoupled Cole Norman-trained runners - haven't seen action for extended periods.

Beau's Town, winner of the Grade 2 Bing Crosby at Del Mar in 2003, hasn't raced since finishing third in the Thanksgiving Handicap in November 2004, suggesting he is a horse to be played against. Although Norman has a good record with runners coming off long layoffs, on a whole, horses that have been away for a year or more represent terrible wagers. Even if injuries haven't slowed them down, these types often need a start to regain fitness.

In order of preference, I'll use Two Down Automatic (program number 5), the entry of Top Commander (1) and Grand Bank (1A), and Stolen Time (6).

* Seventh Race, the Grade 3 Silverbulletday at 1 1/16 miles: French Park, unbeaten in three starts after taking the Golden Rod at Churchill Downs Nov. 26, will start as an overwhelming favorite in a field that has little stakes experience.

Although French Park is the most likely winner, I believe she will likely be overbet after winning the Golden Rod by rallying in a race that was run quickly early and slowly late. She benefited when eventual runner-up She Says It Best, who had raced on the lead through fast early fractions, ran the final sixteenth of the Golden Rod in over 7.40 seconds.

I'll use Capozzene (7), Devine Laughter (8), and French Park (5), and hope for an upset of French Park.

* Eighth Race, the Grade 3 Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf: The old saying that class wins on grass is usually true. And Snowdrops (7) is unquestionably the class, having just won the Grade 3 My Charmer against La Reina.

Most of her opponents give the impression of minor stakes or allowance runners, which points to Snowdrops as the winner, provided she handles the local course and has a smooth trip.

* Ninth Race, the Grade 3 Risen Star at 1 1/16 miles: Lawyer Ron, dominant in two starts in Louisiana this winter for trainer Bob Holthus, rates as the top choice over Saint Augustus, who won the What a Pleasure Stakes at Calder on Dec. 3.

Lawyer Ron, winless in seven starts on turf or Polytrack, is 3 for 3 on traditional dirt tracks. That includes a 10 3/4-length allowance win at Louisiana Downs on Dec. 9 and an 8 1/2-length triumph in the $100,000 Diamond Jo Stakes at Evangeline Down on Dec. 31.

I'll play against Hyte Regency, who showed questionable desire in finishing third in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill on Nov. 26. Seemingly on his way to a runner-up finish in midstretch, he allowed the pacesetting High Cotton to come back and outfinish him by 1 3/4 lengths for second money.

Lawyer Ron (4) and Saint Augustus (7) will be on my pick-four tickets.

The ticket: Using the horses noted above, a $2 pick-four ticket of 5,1,6 with 7,8,5 with 7 with 4,7 would cost $36.