08/31/2001 12:00AM

Unlike break dancing, 80's-type overlays still in style


LEXINGTON, Ky. - I loaned a friend a handicapping book a couple of years ago. I asked him for an evaluation when he returned it. His review: "It was fun to read, but the races used as examples are from the 1980's. Handicappers have more information available to them now than they did then. You can't find obvious overlays like those anymore."

Well, grab your favorite Duran Duran CD, watch a rerun of "Miami Vice" on cable at 2 a.m., then take a look at the past performances for Aug. 30 at Ellis Park, because obvious 80's-style overlays still exist.

The third race was a one-mile $30,000 maiden claiming race for 3-year-olds and up. The 9-5 favorite was Dynabow. At the first call in his last four races, Dynabow was last in a field of eight, 10 lengths behind the leader; last of 10, 15 lengths behind the leader; last of 10, 19 lengths off the lead, and last of eight, with a 10-length deficit. He was a stone-cold deep closer who had finished off the board in six of his seven races. I didn't like him enough to include him among my top three picks in the consensus box.

High School Football, the second betting choice at 2-1, was another deep closer. He had been 10th by 15, seventh by 8, and 10th by 10 at the opening calls in his first three career starts. My pace figures showed that his 66 Beyer from his most recent race, the top figure for any runner in this field, was misleading since he had earned it while laying 10 lengths behind a hot 22-second fraction, and was 9 1/2 lengths behind a much- faster-than-par 45.40 split. The speed caved in, and allowed him to gain seven positions and eight lengths in a performance that he was unlikely to repeat under a much less favorable pace scenario.

Most of the rest of the field was even less appealing. Willie J had shown hints of speed, but quit early in both of his races, and had lost by large margins while earning a 0 and a 12 Beyer. Ransom Love was a first-timer who was cold on the board at 20-1 in this seven-horse field. Risen Storm and Claude had both set up camp far behind the early leaders, and were even farther behind at the finish while earning low Beyers in their debuts.

When the favorites in a race are obviously deficient in any important handicapping factor, the best way to try to beat them is with a horse whose prime attribute is his strength in that same category. You didn't have to be "Matlock" (geriatric TV detective from the 1980's) to realize that the controlling speed in this field was going to be Rupert's Sun. As a general rule, the shorter the race, the faster the pace is likely to be. When Rupert's Sun ran in a six-furlong race on Aug. 23, he had been a close fourth, 1 1/4 lengths behind the leader at the first call. In a seven-furlong race on Aug. 4 he had been second, only a head behind the leader. And in a mile race on July 21, he had enjoyed a clear lead at the first two calls. Rupert's Sun figured to have an even stronger edge at that same distance in this paceless field.

The race played out just as neatly as it should have. Greta Kuntzweiler was well aware of the advantage she enjoyed as the lone speed. She stole the race when she grabbed a comfortable lead through slower-than-par 24.24, 48.17, and 1:13.56 fractions. Rupert's Sun increased the margin down the stretch and scored by 2 1/4 lengths. The only genuine surprise is that he was allowed to pay $14.80 to win. The exacta with Always Us, the horse who had just enough tactical foot to follow Rupert's Sun around the track without ever challenging him, returned $57.20.

Note to "The A-Team," "Macgyver," "Remington Steele," and "Magnum, P.I.": Leave Greta alone. Stealing a race is perfectly legal.