01/12/2007 12:00AM

Two big carryovers make one fine day


NEW YORK - The power of pick six carryovers to drive racetrack handle was on stunning display last Wednesday at Aqueduct and Santa Anita.

A perfect storm of chaotic results at the two tracks last weekend created a rare pair of bicoastal carryovers on what otherwise would have been a sleepy Wednesday in January at both tracks. Instead, horseplayers closed the book on Sunday's racing knowing there would be a three-day $403,438 carryover at the Big A and an extra $623,110 in the kitty at Santa Anita. With both tracks dark Monday and Tuesday, handicappers had an unusual three-night, two-day window to analyze the daylights out of the two Wednesday six-packs. For those brave souls who tried both, it was a seamless doubleheader, with the first leg in California going off just 14 minutes after the finale in New York.

They sent it in, to the tune of $1.1 million on Aqueduct's pick six and $2.7 million on Santa Anita's, leading to nearly weekend-sized handles at both venues - $9.4 million in Ozone Park and $11.3 million in Arcadia. The following day, with no carryovers on offer, the respective totals were $5.8 million and $7.1 million.

The incremental volume was not confined to the pick six itself. When bettors put more time into handicapping a card in order to play a pick six, they bet their individual as well as sequential opinions, hedge their pick six plays, and get involved in other pools once they perish in the big one. At Santa Anita, for example, the late pick four pool was $513,120 on Wednesday and just $322,842 on Thursday. The same bet at Aqueduct handled $251,703 Wednesday and slipped to $149,314 Thursday.

The two carryover sequences unfolded similarly, with roughly 100 winners for each track's combination of five low-priced winners and one somewhat tricky maiden. At Aqueduct, the payout was $12,958 for five victors at 4-1 or less, including favorites in the last three legs, and a $22.40 first-time starter from trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. Santa Anita's winners collected $18,992 for five triumphs at 3-1 or less, including a 2-5 shot in the feature, and a $31.60 new gelding dropping from an $80,000 to a $32,000 maiden-claiming tag.

Of course that sounds easier than it was. You can't be as creative as you needed to be in those two maiden races six times without spending a fortune, nor is every logical-sounding winner a must-use. One nitwit I saw in the mirror this morning went a rousing 3 for 6 at Aqueduct, getting knocked out in the very first leg by a 7-2 winner he wouldn't have used at 72-1 and then taking aggressive and apparently misguided stances against two winning favorites later on.

The 5-of-6 payoffs of $113.20 at Santa Anita and $135.50 at Aqueduct were not very consoling, especially to anyone whose only miss at Aqueduct was needing favored Miss Vanity in the third leg. The payoff probably would have been only $5,000 or so with her winning at 8-5 rather than falling three-quarters of a length short to 4-1 Miss Linzer, but anyone who took that particular defeat deserves at least a fruit basket and a hug for a truly staggering bad beat.

Miss Vanity, breaking from the rail in a mile race for $35,000 statebred maiden claimers, cruised to the lead through moderate fractions of 48.03 and 1:14.97 and looked long gone, widening her 5 1/2-length lead with just a quarter of a mile to go. As it turned out, all she would have needed to do was run her final quarter in true trotting-horse time of 30 seconds to prevail, but it took her a bit more. Shortening stride badly and proceeding in slow motion, she coughed up a seven-length lead in the final furlong as Miss Linzer mercifully stopped the timer in 1:45.27 - not a mile and 70 yards or a mile and a sixteenth, but for one mile.

This may have been a historic moment in the annals of New York Thoroughbred racing. No one can remember a one-mile race being run as slowly as 1:45, or the final quarter-mile fraction of any race being run in over 30 seconds. Miss Linzer's winning Beyer Speed Figure of 33 - upgraded from a raw figure of 27 to account for the only slightly dull track - may also be the least it has ever taken to win a race in New York.

If you had her in the pick six, though, you don't have to give back the money.