AS IF HORSE RACING isn't chancy and unscientific enough, you have a computer guy in Las Vegas running Belmont Stakes simulations.

Michael Calderone, president of Horse Racing Simulation LLC, ran 1,000 computer simulations

of the Belmont. Not once did Big Brown finish last.

That news probably isn't comforting to the

people who bet $6.5 million on Big Brown to win.

"But we ran 1,000 simulations, and Big Brown won 80 percent of the time," Calderone said

yesterday. "That was the highest percentage we've ever seen in the history of the sim."

Last week, with the computer research in his pocket, Calderone publicly said Big Brown would "easily" win the Belmont, as he did the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He wasn't as mouthy about it as Big Brown trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., but he was just as wrong.

Belmont winner Da' Tara won just 4 percent of the simulated races.

"It was 90-something degrees, he was sweaty, he was uncomfortable," Calderone said of Big Brown. "In hindsight, who knows? It could have been a million things. That's the mysterious part about horse racing. Nothing's guaranteed."

Next on the tee . . .

This week's U.S. Open is being played at Torrey Pines, a public course in San Diego. When an Open is at a private club, a pro just makes a call to get playing privileges.

This week's U.S. Open is being played at Torrey Pines, a public course in San Diego. When an Open is at a private club, a pro just makes a call to get playing privileges.

In December, Henrik Stenson wanted to play Torrey Pines, to get a look and a feel for the Open course. So, the Swede went online and booked a tee time. He and a friend paid their greens fee and went to the driving range with everybody else.

Then, public-course reality kicked in. Stenson, one of the top 20 players in the world, got hooked up with another twosome.

In this case, it was a young couple who had just taken up the game.

"Let's just say it was an interesting round," said Stenson, who didn't say if it was a 6-hour round. *

- Chuck Bausman