05/18/2005 12:00AM

Turf Paradise track report

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Chris Hertzog's story of finding his lost Kentucky Derby superfecta ticket - worth a mere $864,253 - had a happy ending for him. It also had a happy ending for Brenda Reagan, the single mother of four who not only sold Hertzog the winning ticket but found it near her window after a panicky night's search. That's because Hertzog, a 16-year veteran of the Phoenix Fire Department, rewarded Reagan's efforts with a check for a cool $25,000.

"Brenda was just doing her job," said Hertzog, 39, while making the check presentation, "but in doing so she changed my life. This was above and beyond the call of duty."

"I have four children who will benefit greatly from Chris's generosity," said Reagan.

Hertzog made $100 worth of quick-pick trifecta and superfecta wagers on the Derby with Reagan, who works both as a bartender at the Finish Line Bar and as a mutuels clerk. After the record payoff was made official, Reagan was notified by the track mutuels director that a winning ticket had been purchased at her machine. She said she knew it must have been Hertzog. "Chris was the only one who had bet quick picks on the Derby," she said.

The problem was that Hertzog couldn't find the ticket. He had inadvertently thrown his tickets away - or so it seemed. The next day Reagan found the ticket right next to her machine, as if Hertzog had never really picked it up.

* Virden, the top 3-year-old filly on the Turf Paradise circuit, showed the Californians what she could do May 8, when she pulled a 26-1 upset in Hollywood's Grade 3 Senorita at a mile on the turf. Trainer Dan McFarlane said that Virden, a daughter of Tactical Cat, might come back in the next leg of the Hollywood Park 3-year-old turf filly series, the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the turf June 5.