09/02/2006 11:00PM

Spa Stakes play for Sunday


It took 32 days of racing but we finally got a double-carryover in the pick six for today. The bad news is, it's an extremely tough card with several monkey wrenches: a sealed main track and possibly the softest turf course of the meeting; a first leg that has been switched from a grass route to a dirt sprint, loaded with firsters and losers; a third leg where you'll be guessing in the dark about four first-time starters; an extremely competitive Saranac as the fourth leg; and a scaramble of a maiden-claiming turfer to close things out.

If this thing carries again into closing day, when there would be a mandatory payout, it's going to be wild. Save some ammo; the banks are closed on Labor Day. And there's a reasonable chance it will carry again given the factors cited above. Of course the last time I thought there was a good chance of a multiple carryover, on Aug. 24, the six races were won by five favorites and a 7-2 second choice, and the generous return was nearly $7k.

I'm still pondering the size and scope of my play, but whatever I do I'll try to get alive into a 2x3 in the final two legs today. In the featured Spinaway Stakes, I like two out-of-towners, Appealing Zophie and X Star. Appealing Zophie chased legit fractions and a runaway winner in the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies last time out, a race that went significantly faster than the colts' edition three races later. She's the dominant speed from the inside in a field without much quality early speed. X Star is trying to go from a maiden victory at Delaware to a Grade 1 stakes but ran so well in her lone start that she can do it. Obviously the other horse to fear in the race is morning-line favorite Cotton Blossom, but she was a little lucky to win the Schuylerville when Desire to Excel broke poorly, has not run as fast as the two shippers, and will be overbet in this spot. If you want a bomb, Post Invader will be passing horses late and might pass them all if everyone guns and there's a meltdown

In the finale, I'll go with Senorita Ballado, dropping from maiden-special to maiden-claiming; Fair Maiden, whose last grass race at this level was a good one; and Smoke Granted, whose lone grass start would drown these if she repeats it.

If I'm dead in the pick six by the eighth race, I'll do something like this for each $78 invested:

Race 8, $1 pick-three partwheel: 2,3,6,8,11,12/2,6/2,5,6= $36

Race 9, $6 double partwheel: 2,6/2,5,6= $36

Race 9, $3 double partwheel: 4,5/2,5,6= $18