'Bull' may get his due at Belmont

May 30, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Beaten Kentucky Derby favorite Holy Bull gets a shot at redemption today when he takes on 10 older horses -- including Pimlico Special runner-up Devil His Due -- in the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park.

The $500,000 handicap is the first of seven stakes races to be included in a new national weekly wager called the National Best Seven, which debuts today and is available at all Maryland betting outlets. However, the Metropolitan Mile can be bet separately in Maryland as part of the full-card simulcast program from Philadelphia Park.

The Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico Race Course is the second stakes to be offered in the National Best Seven lineup, which is patterned after the Breeders' Cup Pick-7 and a National Pick Six, which had an experimental three-week run nearly two years ago.

Holy Bull's owner-trainer, Jimmy Croll, said yesterday that he has sharpened his colt's speed since the horse's dismal Derby performance and expects him to get the lead in the Met Mile.

"It's a tough race," Croll said. "But it seemed to me a good time to take a shot at it. Most of the speed is down on the inside of us and hopefully he's got enough early lick of his own to get an easy lead. There are a couple of other speed horses in there, but unless they are exceptional, I don't think we'll be outrun."

Croll said Holy Bull needed extra time to recover from his Derby experience, which is why he missed the Preakness.

Pimlico Race Course owner Joe De Francis, who serves on the executive committee of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, is one of the persons instrumental in initiating the National Best Seven wager.

He said yesterday that since California wagering outlets will conduct betting on the Best Seven, the pool should top $1 million.

"That means if nobody hits all seven winners, there could be a $500,000 carryover," De Francis said.

Once the host TRA and horsemen's organizations take 25 percent of the total pool, the rest of the National Pool is split as follows:

* 63 percent goes into the Major Pool. If there are no perfect tickets picking all seven winners, the Major Pool is carried over until the next Best Seven, which is each Saturday.

* 30 percent goes to the Minor Pool, which is paid out to the holders of tickets with the most winners except in perfect ticket cases.

* 7 percent goes into a Jackpot Pool, paid out only in the event of one single perfect ticket. Because it is likely that there would only be one perfect ticket infrequently, the Jackpot Pool could produce a huge weekly carryover.

The mechanics of making the Best Seven wager are easy. Players simply fill out a bet card by writing in the numbers of the horse they think will win in each race.

Bets are made in 50-cent increments to appeal to the casual fan. It is the first time a 50-cent wager has been offered in Maryland.

The Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico goes off at 5:15 p.m., followed by the Great Lakes Handicap (Thistledown), 5:20 p.m.; Washington Park Handicap (Arlington International Racecourse) 5:25 p.m.; Barksdale Handicap (Louisiana Downs) 5:30 p.m.; Memorial Day Stakes (Calder Race Course) 5:36 p.m.; and the Ak-Sar Ben Handicap (Ak-Sar-Ben Race Course), 5:50 p.m.

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