Horseplayers will look at todayís Cigar Mile as the final leg of an all stakes Pick 4. Fans see it as the final Grade 1 of the New York season.

Either way, itís a two horse race on paper, probably a one-horse race to be totally objective. But this is horse racing where anything can happen and often does.

If this were the third race on a Wednesday, Midnight Lute (3-5) has the kind of form you might want to take a chance against. His last two performance figures were simply off the normal scale, he returns on relatively short rest, gives weight to his major contender, has never won at a mile and drew the rail post out of the one-mile chute. Five reasons to bet against. But one not to do that: This is an exceptional animal.

Not even good racehorses can do what he did in the Sprint, coming from far, far back with a rally reminiscent of the great Turkoman of two decades ago. To think he would get up, then win going away, was unthinkable as you watched the race live. Now, when you look at his figures, you know thereís a bounce forthcoming. One canít sustain that level indefinitely. Then he works six furlongs in 1:10 2/5, like breaking so many sticks, and with the performance gap between he and his rivals, you can absolutely regress and still win.

However, the three-year-old Daaher (3-1) could be anything. Heís fast, fit, fresh and very dangerous. Heís proven at the distance, is in receipt of seven pounds (including the weight allowance), is nicely drawn, and his speed gives him a tactical advantage. Heís been very impressive, too, from a visual frame. Heís been working very well for his first start since winning the key race Jerome early last month.

However, we must take Midnight Lute to win with no price restrictions although, in the real world, we would forgo a win wager, box the exacta. and root for the upset.

Running Totals: (135) 47-29-15. Total Dollar Return: $278.50 [win selections only] {Fridayís results not included}