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MENTAL NOTES MADE AT BREEDERS' CUP

The Happy Handicapper didn't make a huge pile of money on last Saturday's Breeders' Cup. But he did see a few things at Lone Star Park that may prove profitable someday.

Watch Watchmaker: Daily Racing Form handicapper Mike Watchmaker picked only two of the eight Cup winners correctly, but his excellent morning line pointed the H.H. to the day's two $50 winners.

Using Watchmaker's line as a guide, the H.H. wagered on the two biggest overlays in each race. That way he caught Wilko ($58.60) in the Juvenile and Better Talk Now ($57.80) in the Turf.

Wilko was 20-1 on the line and 28-1 on the board, a difference of 40 percent. Better Talk Now was lined at 15-1 and went off at 27-1, an overlay of 80 percent.

Formful: Of the 37 staff selectors whose picks were published in Saturday's Daily Racing Form, only Elliot Safdie had as many as four winners on top, and his biggest winner was Speightstown ($9.40) in the Sprint.

Only four selectors picked any of the three winning long shots. Kenny Peck and Dave Tuley each had Wilko while David Grening and Mike Welsch sniffed out Singletary ($35) in the Mile.

As for bigger payoffs, Watchmaker and Andrew Beyer both nailed the $164 Classic trifecta (Ghostzapper, Roses in May and Pleasantly Perfect) cold (in exact order) while Scott Ehlers, Steve Klein, Paul Malecki, Kenny Peck and Jay Privman caught it with a three-horse box (in inexact order).

In other successful boxes, Bill Howard and Jim Kachulis caught the $492 Turf trifecta (Better Talk Now, Kitten's Joy and Powerscourt). Steve Crist had the $364 Filly & Mare Turf trifecta (Ouija Board, Film Maker and Wonder Again). Howard also caught the $174.20 trifecta in the Juvenile Fillies (Sweet Catomine, Balletto and Runway Model).

Another one: Wilko was also a top selection on the free Indian Charlie tip sheet of humorist Ed Musselman (Indiancharlie.com).

"European invader comes into this race with 10 races under his belt and will be facing a field of mostly lightly raced critters. . . . He will be one of the longest prices on the tote board and has run very few bad races," he wrote.

Maybe next time: Stellar Jayne ran a good race to finish third in the Distaff after leaving from the 11 post.

"I was pleased in light of the way it unfolded," trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "She made a tremendous run to get up for third."

See you in Kentucky: Bernie Flint, trainer of 2-year-old filly Runway Model (who closed to be third in the Juvenile Fillies), said, "She looks like she wants to go farther (than 1 1/1 6 miles) and that makes me happy because we will be looking forward to the First Friday in May (date of the 1 1/8 -mile Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs).

And, of course, Juvenile winner Wilko becomes the de facto early favorite for the Kentucky Derby and the next candidate to break the jinx that says no Juvenile winner ever wins the Derby. Trained in Europe by Jeremy Noseda, Wilko now will be handled in California by Craig Dollase.

Despite his second-place finish in the Juvenile, Afleet Alex should also get some Derby respect. He had a terrible trip after stumbling at the start, but still managed to take the lead in the stretch before losing in the final 100 yards.

"He ran a gutsy race. . . . He showed his heart," trainer Tim Ritchey said.

And the winner is: Speightstown's victory over 12 Sprint rivals earned $551,200 in prize money but didn't exactly guarantee the Eclipse Award for best sprinter. That's because Pico Central, the horse who beat Speightstown by 4 1/2 lengths at Saratoga, wasn't entered after his owner declined to pay a hefty supplemental fee. Both are once-defeated in six starts this year.

Warrior update: The "Road Warrior" angle of "Crushing The Cup" authors Jim Mazur and Peter Mallet produced two winners -- Ashado ($6) in the Distaff and Speightstown ($9.40) -- a second (Roses in May), a third (Runway Model) and three also-rans.

Hall of flamers: Except for Bobby Frankel's Ghostzapper ($7), the horses entered by Hall of Fame trainers went 0 for 14 with only three finishing in the money. It was a bad day for one of the H.H.'s favorite big race angles.

Fort-ified: Always bet any horse that trained at Fort Erie Race Track last summer and was entered in a Breeders' Cup race.

That description fit Royal Regalia, a 6-year-old from the Fort Erie barn of trainer Justin Nixon. The leggy gray gelding (whose past performances showed three August workouts at the Fort) was entered in the Mile, but he failed to draw in from the also-eligible list when nobody scratched from the $1.5 million race.

As a consolation prize, Royal Regalia ran in a $100,000 Lone Star stakes race run a few minutes after the NBC telecast signed off. With Javier Castellano (Ghostzapper's rider) aboard, Royal Regalia won by 2 1/4 lengths and paid $4.80.

Pay Attention: On the H.H.'s horses-to-watch list is a sprinter named "Dress for Success." Meanwhile, on the Thursday before the Breeders' Cup, in the $50,000 Lone Star Juvenile Fillies Stakes, there was a horse named "Dressed for Succes."

Guess what mistake he made. She finished third.
e-mail: rsummers@buffnews.com

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