05/03/2006 11:00PM

Another Giacomo would thrill bookies


It's the nature of the business that bookmakers cheer for the bottom line and against their customers.

So, John Avello, director of race and sports at Wynn Las Vegas, has his list of 3-year-olds that he doesn't want to see win the Derby, as they represent the biggest liabilities in his future book, which has been up since September.

"Brother Derek, Barbaro, Lawyer Ron, Bob and John, Point Determined, and Cause to Believe would be moderate to bad results for the house," Avello said.

That reads like the list of favorites and wise-guy horses. If you had a crystal ball and got down on those horses before every one knew about them, you could have bet Brother Derek at as high as 150-1, Barbaro at 250-1, Bob and John at 250-1, Point Determined at 225-1, and Cause to Believe at 200-1.

How about the ones that would be a win for Wynn?

"Deputy Glitters, Jazil, you know, all the horses that don't have a chance to win," Avello said. When it was suggested that his comment might put one of those in the winner's circle, he laughed and said, "I'll take it any way I can get it."

Of course, Avello knows he won't be hearing any sympathy from bettors. Of the horses that took most of the early action last fall - First Samurai, Henny Hughes, Stevie Wonderboy, Flanders Fields, and Sorcerer's Stone - none of them made the Derby field. In fact, of the 14 horses that ran in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, only Brother Derek and Private Vow will also run in the Derby. Avello also dodged bullets when Strong Contender and Sunriver fell short on the graded-stakes earnings list.

That's a lot of torn up tickets.

Derby bettors can get their props

When the parimutuel betting starts, that's when Vegas books take down their future books. But that hardly means the end to special wagers available on the big race.

Just like with any major sporting event, proposition wagers are available for those wanting to bet the race in different ways than those offered at Churchill Downs.

The running time is a popular prop. Wynn has the over/under at 2:01.70 with over bettors having to risk -140 (risk $1.40 for every $1 you want to profit) with the under available at +120.

For comparison's sake, the Plaza in downtown Vegas has the over/under set at 2:02 with the under at -125 and the over at +105.

"I went a little lower because it should be a fairly hot pace," Avello said. "It all depends on the weather, of course. If it's raining or the track looks to be playing slow, I won't hesitate to raise the time."

Caesars Palace has a couple of props that as of Wednesday weren't available anywhere else in town. Horse players can bet on whether the winning mutuel will be over or under $17.70 (-170 on the under, +140 on the over) and whether the winning saddle cloth number will be odd or even (-115 both ways).

"Looking at the field, this Derby is really deep and should draw a lot of betting interest," said Chuck Esposito, director of race and sports at Caesars. "These props are just another way to enjoy watching the race."

Most casinos will have head-to-head matchups by Saturday. Esposito said the early action after the post-position draw was on Florida Derby winner Barbaro in some of his matchups.

But of all the props at this time of year, the one that generates the most discussion is whether there will be a Triple Crown winner. Caesars had been offering odds of +900 on the "yes," with -1400 on the "no," but it has been bet down to +700. As of Wednesday night, the Plaza was still holding the line on a Triple Crown winner at its opening odds of +800. At the Wynn, it was down to +650. Sports book directors at each property said they expect more money to come in on the "yes" as recreational bettors tend to want to cheer for something good to happen.

Caesars has broken the bet down further with odds on whether the Derby winner will win the Preakness (-430 on the "no," +330 on the "yes") and whether the Derby winner will win the Belmont (-1000 on the "no," +700 on the "yes").

Casinos pump up twin Q jackpots

For those who don't know, a twin quinella is a wager in which bettors try to hit the quinella on two separate races, paying $2 per betting combination. (For example, a four-horse box in one race with a three-horse box in the other race would cost $36, or 6 combinations x 3 combinations x $2.) The casino puts up a prize pool and those holding winning tickets split the jackpot.

On Wednesdays through Sundays all year long the Station Casinos offer a $5,000 twin quinella wager, and the last few years has offered a $10,000 jackpot on Derby Day and Breeders' Cup Day. This Saturday, Stations is increasing the twin Q pool to $20,000.

As they've done the past few years, the Stratosphere and its sister Arizona Charlie's properties will offer a $3,000 twin quinella wager.

The Rampart, which used to have a $500 daily twin quinella, is offering a $1,000 jackpot with the opening of its satellite race book at the Cannery.

And the Leroy's chain of books will be offering a $5,000 twin quinella for the first time. Since not many people know about this, that could be the best chance to sweep the whole pot.

In all cases, the race books will use the Derby as one race, with the other most likely to also be at Churchill Downs.

Derby picks

From post 7, Bob and John should sit the perfect trip behind a blistering pace of Sinister Minister, Keyed Entry, Sharp Humor, and possibly even Lawyer Ron (who was unable to be held back in the Arkansas Derby and might bolt to the front again too early). I usually toss the Derby favorite, but I really like Brother Derek and think he will be there at the end but that he won't be able to overcome the traffic he will encounter from the outside post. Sinister Minister should stick around the longest among the speed horses, with A. P. Warrior also a threat from off the pace.

Here are my Derby selections:

1. Bob and John

2. Brother Derek

3. Sinister Minister

4. A. P. Warrior