02/01/2007 1:00AM

Two good things and a couple of warriors


ARCADIA, Calif. - There is no shortage of opinions at the racetrack. So here goes . . .

* We are supposed to bet against 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor - a certain underlay - when he returns Saturday in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, right? Well, not so fast. Nine of the last 12 Breeders' Cup Classic winners that raced again won their next start. Since 1989, the only Classic winners that lost next out were Volponi (2002), Cat Thief (1999) and Alphabet Soup (1996).

* When he was at Santa Anita last weekend for the Sunshine Millions Distaff, trainer Dale Romans "released" a two-horse parlay. The first half landed when Joint Effort ($14.60) blew out the $500,000 Distaff; the second half goes Saturday in race 10 at Gulfstream. Romans said that Roman's Run has thrived over winter, and is "well-meant" in an entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds. Get down.

* The good 3-year-old Time Squared floundered and finished third as the odds-on favorite in a maiden race Jan. 21, but he had an alibi. The Fusaichi Pegasus colt reared before the start, banged his head in the gate, and ran around the track in a daze. Jockey Julien Leparoux told trainer Patrick Biancone that Time Squared ran like he "was drunk." Time Squared has a longshot look Saturday in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes.

* If the improving 3-year-old colt Heza Legend wins at the first allowance condition Friday at Santa Anita (race 5), then the maiden he beat last time might be a good thing when he runs next. That is Air Commander, a Bob Baffert-trained Point Given colt who raced greenly while finishing second to Heza Legend in a highly rated maiden race Jan. 12.

* It's a good thing for rainbow-chasers that the pick six carryovers have slowed. Bettors could use a break after gunning for 11 carryovers over the first five weeks of the winter meet.

* When a lightly raced superstar such as Barbaro goes down, it sure does make you appreciate a warrior such as Lava Man. Barbaro won 6 of 7 before his tragic breakdown in the Preakness; Lava Man returned last weekend to win for the 15th time from 36 starts. At age 6, he appears to be as good as ever.

* Is there a better trip in a Santa Anita sprint than three wide pressing the pace? That was the trip Smokey Stover used last weekend to demolish Grade 1 winners Proud Tower Too and Bordonaro in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint. As fast as Smokey Stover ran in the six-furlong race (1:08.03), there aren't many sprinters in the country who could have beaten him.

* Five and one-half furlong races continue to be phony. Since the start of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, 18 of the 20 horses that ran back after winning a 5 1/2-furlong race lost their next start, including 10 that started at 5-1 or less. E Z Warrior and Queen of the Catsle both lost last weekend at low odds after big races at 5 1/2.

* Owner Marty Wygod was fuming at jockey Kent Desormeaux's tactics in the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash last Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Desormeaux gunned Complexity to the front through insane fractions (21.48 and 43.96), effectively sealing the fate of Complexity, who finished eighth, and the Wygod-owned Idiot Proof, who pressed the hot pace and held second in a monster effort.

* Not all claims turn out as well as Da Svedonya, but for the past 18 months, the racemare has been the ultimate warrior. Claimed for $16,000 in August 2005 by Don Beardsworth, Dennis Decauwer, and Peter Lurie, Da Svedonya made 28 starts for those owners and trainer Gary Stute, and earned $279,933. Surprisingly, she was claimed Wednesday for $40,000. Da Svedonya's new trainer is Steve Knapp; her new owners are Gino Roncelli and partners. Overall, the 7-year-old Da Svedonya is 6 for 50, with earnings of $319,033.

* Trainer Doug O'Neill, who operates the largest stable in Southern California, added a new client early this week in Tommy Town Thoroughbreds. That's 28 more horses to the growing operation. At what point does a trainer with as many horses as O'Neill say, "Enough is enough?"

* Horseplayers who backed Midnight Lute in his first two starts this winter should have cashed by now. Midnight Lute was best in the Grade 1 Malibu on Dec. 26, but finished third after a slow start and rush job. Midnight Lute was best in the San Fernando on Jan. 13, but finished second after a four-wide trip. Now he runs Saturday in the Grade 2 Strub, and though Midnight Lute is the most probable winner, you have to wonder - can any horse these days string together three superior races in a six-week span?