10/18/2002 12:00AM

Bettors do not have to look far to discover handicapping help

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The consolation for missing my first Breeders' Cup in seven years is that I'll be enjoying the day in the second best place to watch it, Las Vegas.

In town, the popularity of the Breeders' Cup is near the equal of the Kentucky Derby, and for the first time I'll be able to see why. Whether you spend the day in a special party room or in your regular race book seat, it's a fiesta of eight championship races over five hours.

When you're on-site at the host track, the bundle of races comes at you faster than a Randy Johnson fastball. You barely have time to digest a race result when the next field is leaving the paddock for the post parade.

It was in that chaos in 1999 that my cohorts at Breeders' Cup Newsfeed department bet $192 on the pick six and cashed the lone winning ticket, worth more than $3 million. Thank you, Cat Thief.

In Las Vegas, excessive party distractions can cause a mess at the betting windows. While it's a fun time, betting is business and a bad decision can result in losses.

One big edge to being here is there is no shortage of free handicapping help. Three Breeders' Cup seminars will be offered Friday night.

Daily Racing Form in conjunction with Bally's will host a seminar in the Paris Concorde Room of Paris Las Vegas. Scheduled to appear are Ralph Siraco, host of Race Day Las Vegas and columnist for DRF; Lauren Stich, Brad Free, and Dave Tuley of DRF; and myself. The seminar will be broadcast live from 7 to 9 p.m. on 1400-KSHP and can be heard over the Internet at www.kshp.com.

A tentative list of call-in guests include jockeys Jerry Bailey and Kent Desormeaux; Steven Crist, Mike Watchmaker, and Alan Shuback of DRF; and Washington Post columnist Andy Beyer.

At Sam's Town, Gordon Jones will host a seminar in the race book featuring Track Talk radio program regulars Joanne Jones, Patrick McQuiggan, and Bruce Finkelstein. The seminar will start at 6 p.m.

At Sunset Station in Henderson, Jerry Jacovitz of Jerry J's Power Page will conduct a seminar in the Club Madrid room. That seminar will begin at 7 p.m.

Jerry J's Power Page, for New York and Southern California races, is free at participating race books in Las Vegas. At the seminar, he will provide a free Breeders' Cup handout. Also, Sunset Station will give a free Breeders' Cup T-shirt to all attendees.

Richard Eng is the turf editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and host of the Race Day Las Vegas Wrap Up Show.