03/27/2003 12:00AM

Two national pick threes coming up

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Two national pick three bets linking a series of televised stakes races will be offered on April 5 and April 12, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Thursday.

The bets, which will have a $1 minimum and 20 percent takeout, are the first offered this year by the NTRA. Last year, the NTRA offered three pick three bets linking nationally televised races.

The April 5 pick three will link the Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Park, and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita. The races will be televised live on ESPN, 5-6 p.m. Eastern.

On April 12, the pick three will include the three major Kentucky Derby preps - the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. The Wood will be carried live on ESPN during a one-hour show starting at 3:30 p.m. Eastern, while the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby will be part of a 90-minute program on NBC starting at 4:30 p.m.