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Jul 09, 2004

RACING TODAY

By: JOHN PIESEN


Thank you for the flood of e-mails and calls, and congratulations to the good folks who had

the foresight to phone my hot line last weekend for my NTRA National Pick Four selections.

I made three picks in each of the four races, and suggested to the callers to use the 12 picks

at a cost of $162 (for $2). Moreover, I advised the callers to make exacta and trifecta boxes with

the same picks.

Jackpot!

For those scoring at home, Peace Rules ($8.40) was my third choice. Quantum Merit ($13.40) was

my second choice. Request for Parole ($11.40) was my top choice, and Ticker Tape ($26) was my

second choice.

The Pick Four came back $7,879 for $2!

Since the total pool was $992,784, that means there were about 90 winners, and I presume that

about half that total were callers to my hot line.

Oh, yes. I also hit two exacta boxes, and a trifecta box in the four races.

Let's recap how this was done.

First of all, I need to apolgize for picking Peace Rules only third. It had slipped my mind that Belmont

starts its mile and a quarter races on the turn, rather than on the straightaway. This gives a huge

advantage to the inside horses.

One of the reasons why I picked Bowman's Band and Dynever one-two in the Suburban Handicap

was that I thought they had a post advantage. Imagine my chagrin when they I saw them load

the horses on the turn.

As a result, Dynever and Bowman's Band spotted the field a dozen lengths at the break, while

Peace Rules, Funny Cide and Newfoundland (1-2-3) dominated the race from start to finish.

Dummy. If I had realized the start came on the turn, Peace Rules would have been my top choice.

The bottom line is: Next time they run a mile and a quarter on the dirt at Belmont, you need to know

that they are giving the inside horses a huge advantage. Makes you wonder how Tiznow ever won

the Breeders' Cup Classic.

But let us give Peace Rules points for a remarkable race. Even trainer Frankel said he thought the

horse would be lucky to get fourth at the eighth pole.

And one more thing. It's time for trainer Tagg to take the kid gloves off Funny Cide. The New York-bred

ran huge.

I get no points for Quantum Merit. There were really only three legit horses in the Firecracker at

Churchill Downs -- Senor Swinger, Perfect Soul and Quantum Merit -- and the best price won, thanks

in part to a poor ride by Melancon on Perfect Soul, the favorite.

It was strange to see Senor Swinger nealy drop Perfect Soul at the eighth pole because jockeys Day

and Melancon are best buddies. The stews DQd Senor Swinger from second to third for the incident.

I assume Pat apologized to Larry.

Request for Parole was an obvious choice in the United Nations. Back on Belmont Day, the horse was

a day and a half the best in the Manhattan, but was blocked from the half-mile to the eighth-pole.

Within a half-hour, trainer Hough gave jockey Prado the call for the U.N., and Edgar, the best rider

alive, gave up a full card at Belmont last Saturday to ride Request for Parole in Jersey.

This time (surprise!) Request for Parole enjoyed a perfect trip, and was the winner every step.

And, as for the American Oaks at Hollywood Park, I took a chance and concentrated on the U.S. horses.

I left out all the foreign horses, including the favored Japanese mare, and took three locals.

My top pick, Mambo Slew, never ran a lick, but Ticker Tape got a perfect trip under Desormeaux at

12-1 and got the money.

I was expecting maybe a 2K payoff for the Pick Four. Instead, we got almost four times that price.

Happy days!

Speaking of "Happy Days" and the Democratic Party, imagine my shock this morning when I saw on

TV that Kerry picked Edwards as his VP.
Only moments earlier, I had picked up my New York Post -- and right there on Page One it said that

Kerry chose Gephardt in an exclusive no less.

Assuming the rest of the world has it right, I must say I am very embarrassed for the New York Post

where I spent 20 years of my professional life.

Heck, as I pointed out in this space last week, we all make mistakes (see Mike Francessa), but this is

a keeper. Just imagine the fun the New York Daily News will have with this on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, here's another reason to go to Saratoga this summer:
Paris Hilton, everyone's favorite movie queen, will be there -- along with her mother Kathy. They will

be guests of horse owners Joe and Eileen Cornacchia. Maybe you can catch Paris and the gang at

Siro's after the races.

A word about Michael Kay.

Kay once worked for me at the Post (bless its heart), and has gone on to bigger and better things

as a Yankee broadcaster and radio talk-show host.

On his talk show last week, Kay said -- after the Yanks swept a day-nighter from the Mets at the

Stadium -- that the Yankees are a vastly superior team to the Mets, and, if they played 162 games,

the Yanks would win 120!

We all know that last weekend it was Mets 3, Yanks 0.

Now, I don't mind radio talkies expressing opinions. That's what they do. But there is something very

wrong when a Yankee employee spouts stuff like this as an "impartial" talk-show host. There is such

a thing as a conflict of interest.

Finally, it may be that Team Smarty is going to skip the Haskell, and wait for the Pennsylvania Derby

on Labor Day at Philly Park. At least that's what trainer Servis told a trade mag the other day.

In the meantime, jockey Elliott has been toying with the idea of switching his tack to Keeneland this

Fall. But that would mean separating himself from Smarty so he's having second thoughts.

If Smarty does make the Pegasus on a Saturday night at The Meadowlands, that would give NBC the

opportunity to give Smarty a prime-time star turn in his final prep for the Breeers' Cup Classic.

That would be quite a show!



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