07/14/2010 5:28PM

Spreading in Smile key to triggering pick four bonanza


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Calder calls its stakes-laden card of sprints Saturday the Summit of Speed. But it is something more than that for horseplayers: It also represents a chance to cash a fat exotics ticket.

With the exception of the Grade 2 Carry Back, with drew heavily favored D’ Funnybone, the stakes are deep and closely matched, setting the stage for nice-sized mutuels in the individual race exotics, as well as in multi-race gimmicks.

Among the most intriguing bets in the wagering lineup is an all-stakes pick four that begins with race 7, the Frank Gomez Memorial, followed by the Grade 3 Azalea, the Grade 2 Carry Back, and the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap.

Besides the sheer quality of the races being offered, the bet is appealing from the standpoint that it can be played for in increments of 50 cents.

Unfortunately for bettors, the sequence includes the Grade 2 Carry Back rather than race 11, the Grade 1 Princess Rooney, a far deeper and better betting race.

Here’s an analysis of the pick four and how I intend to play the wager

Race 7, Frank Gomez Memorial: Utilizing the Ticketmaker program in DRF ’s Formulator, which constructs tickets based on the strength of how a handicapper rates contenders, I assigned three horses in this 2-year-old contest as “A” runners – or top-level contenders.

Those runners, in program order, are Prince of Danger (No. 1), a speedy, first-out winner last month at Calder; Grande Shores (6), a slow-starting but fast-finishing maiden who adds Lasix and owns the top Beyer Speed Figure, a 72; and Vee’s Accolade (7), who rallied to run second to Prince of Danger on June 19 going 4 1/2 furlongs and appears likely to improve with an extra furlong.

Race 8, Azalea: The most likely winners are Rapport (1), Buckleupbuttercup (5), and Pica Slew (8) – whom I rated as “A” level contenders.

But I also could not eliminate Bronx City Girl (6), who joins the high-percentage Marty Wolfson barn off the claim after a fast win for $50,000 claiming at Churchill Downs on May 27. Wolfson has a long history of moving up horses that come into his stable, and though Bronx City Girl doesn’t seem quite as classy as some of her counterparts, on the strength of her form and winning connections, she rates as a “B” level threat.

As a “B” she will be used on many tickets, but not to the extent of the “A” runners.

Race 9, Carry Back: Although D’ Funnybone (2) was the beneficiary of a perfect-trip win winning the Grade 2 Woody Stevens on June 5, and therefore potentially not as good as he looked in that race, I couldn’t find another horse that appeared a legitimate threat to him.

A multiple graded stakes winner, D’ Funnybone ranks as one of the top sprinting 3-year-olds in the country, and it seems the timing of this race fits the schedule trainer Rick Dutrow likes to follow with his stakes horses. That is, give them five to six weeks off between races.

D’ Funnybone is also proven over the Calder strip, having raced in South Florida before being bought privately by owner Paul Pompa after a runner-up finish in the Frank Gomez Memorial last year.

He is a single, the lone “A.”

Race 10, Smile Sprint Handicap: This is a highly competitive six-furlong sprint for older horses, and players are advised to go deep with their pick four plays. This is the race, that if hit with a price horse, has the potential to make the pick four pay nicely.

With that in mind, I used four horses as “A” contenders: Taqarub (7), Congressional Page (8), Big Drama (10), and Snapshot (13).

All are in peak form, coming off either wins or runner-up finishes, and have shown the potential to run Beyers in excess of 100.

Going a little deeper, I chose Go Go Shoot (2) and Mambo Meister (3) as “B” runners. They have virtues, but fell short of being “A”s because Go Go Shoot has gone unplaced in two starts at Calder, and Mambo Meister seems better suited to races at a mile or more.

By plugging the horses I consider to be contenders into Ticketmaker, four tickets were constructed – one with “A”s winning every leg; two tickets with “B”s winning one leg; and one last ticket with “B”s winning two legs. Total cost is $36.

My tickets look like this: 50-cent pick-four 1,6,7 with 1,5,8 with 2 with 7,8,10,13 (cost of $18); a 50-cent pick-four 1,6,7 with 6 with 2 with 7,8,10,13 (cost: $6); a 50-cent pick four 1,6,7 with 1,5,8 with 2 with 2,3 (cost: $9); and a 50-cent pick-four 1,6,7 with 6 with 2 with 2,3 (cost: $3).