03/30/2006 1:00AM

These foolish things remind me of . . .

Fast Parade, a speedball of a sprinter, looks headed for the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Look around at this time of year, and you see a bunch of good handicappers betting like fools. By now, you would think we would have learned.

But we still make mistakes, don't we? And as March turns to April, there are many questions to ponder. Such as . . . .

* What were bettors thinking in the first race March 17 at Santa Anita? From $101,227 bet to show, $90,878 was on Grand Opening. Unfortunately, she broke poorly and blew a shoe.

"You can get away with that on dirt, but not on grass," her trainer, Bobby Frankel, said. Grand Opening finished fourth, and the show payoffs in the five-horse field were $11.80, $30.40, and $25.

* Do people still believe in rabbits? Some people do. Trainer Patrick Biancone entered a rabbit March 12 in the Santa Anita Oaks, but his closing sprinter Wild Fit cannot win a legitimate two-turn race. The rabbit ran last, while Wild Fit finished a bad third. Wild Fit will take up a stall in the Kentucky Oaks, a two-turn race she cannot win - with or without a rabbit.

* What is the real reason Bob and John is ducking the Santa Anita Derby? It's not likely because of pace. There is plenty of that. Is it because Bob and John is overrated and has no shot to beat Brother Derek? More likely, Bob and John's stablemate Point Determined needs to finish at least second in a rich race to be guaranteed a berth in the Kentucky Derby.

* Is Jim McIngvale doing Brother Derek a favor? McIngvale will enter a kamikaze sprinter, Fast Parade, in the nine-furlong Santa Anita Derby, a gamble that could compromise front-runner Brother Derek. That's been tried before. In the 1997 Santa Anita Derby, the fast filly Sharp Cat compromised Silver Charm, who wound up second to Free House. But that race toughened Silver Charm and led to victory in the Kentucky Derby. So will Fast Parade soften up, or toughen up, Brother Derek?

* Why doesn't Frank Stronach just admit the Horse Wizard Lounge at Santa Anita is a bad idea? Every racing afternoon, it remains jammed with empty seats.

* The people who bet on Folklore in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager are wondering: Can a wrenched knee really end a horse's career?

* Speaking of the Future Wager, is there a reason Churchill Downs has not modernized the bet? The Future Wager is in its eighth year, yet continues to offer only 23 individual wagering interests.

* Is northern California racing really that bad? Not when making money is as simple as betting trainers such as Steve Miyadi. His win rate at Golden Gate Fields is 44 percent (29 for 65), making him a cinch for the Hall of something.

* Quick question: Can you name the winner of the Dubai World Cup? Didn't think so.

* Was there a claim for Unusual Jail when he scratched in the post parade Feb. 20 of a $40,000 maiden claimer? Trainer A.C. Avila entered him back March 15 in a special-weight and he romped. He was sold a few days later for a few dollars more than $40,000. Unusual Jail will make his next start April 30 for Bill Spawr.

* Is there a sane handicapper anywhere who believes that Godolphin-owned UAE Derby winner Discreet Cat actually has a chance to win the Kentucky Derby in his fourth career start?

* Speaking of Godolphin and the Kentucky Derby, why is winning the race no longer a top priority? Is it because Godolphin cannot be the first Arab owner to win it? Ahmed Salman beat them to the punch when he scored in 2002 with War Emblem.

* Any reason 3-year-old filly Teammate, who romped in the Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream Park, was not nominated to the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland? If it was an oversight, it was a mighty big one. There are no supplementary nominations to the Ashland.

* Cast your vote now. What should the next race be for millionaire racemare Island Fashion, who has finished up the track in Dubai, Japan, the Breeders' Cup, and Del Mar against males? How about the Arc de Triomphe?

* How many days until Del Mar opens?

* California's primitive rebate program - the Golden State Rewards Network - is being scrapped. Why did I wait until this January to sign up?