08/17/2006 12:00AM

Spa Stakes Play for Thursday

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Much as it breaks my rules and my heart to pass up a pick-six carryover at Saratoga, I have to sit this one out and root for a double-carryover into Friday. It's a real clean-out-the-closet pick-six sequence with low-level statebreds and maiden claimers surrounding a tricky Saratoga Special. A ticket combining all the horses without X's through them at noon in my DRF would go:

1,2,3,7,8,10/3,5,6,7,9,10/1,3,6,7,9/1,2,3,4,6,8,10/1,2,5,6/1,2,3,5,6,7,9,10

Unfortunately, this adds up to 40,320 combinations, or $80,640, which seems a rather imprudent investment.

Even one-dollar partwheels of all these horses in the late pick-three or pick-four would run $224 or $1,120 respectively, and are not far removed from going all-all-all and praying for bombs.

Still, we need some action, so let's trim those tickets down by pitching some favorites. If you honestly believe that six or seven horses can win a race, you're supposed to go against the ones who are going to be 8-5 and 2-1. One of them may win, but the idea is to get some relatively cheap entertainment from leveraging the opinion that these races are really really tough.

So in the sixth race, we'll toss the Pletcher/Velazquez dropdown Moneypenny and go with the other four. In the seventh, let's leave out likely favorite Square Dancing. In the Special, we'll use all four contenders in the pick-three but limit it to Shermanesque and King of the Roxy in the pick four, hoping for an early Teuflesberg-Chace City duel to set it up for the two stretch-runners. And in the finale, we'll drop recent winners Sigh You and Dixie Baghdad in favor of more exotic and pricey runners.

That leaves us with the following somewhat more manageable shots:

R6, $1 pick-four partwheel: 1,3,6,9/2,3,4,6,8,10/2,6/1,3,5,6,9,10 = $288

And/or:

R7, $1 pick-three partwheel: 2,3,4,6,8,10/1,2,5,6/1,3,5,6,9,10 = $144

In a perfect world, goofy horses win, they're on our spread tickets, and we get some ammo to play a double-carryover Friday.