10/31/2005 1:00AM

Bettors get upper hand in Juvenile, Turf


The weekend put a close to John Avello's Breeders' Cup future books for this year, and Avello - formerly of Bally's and now at Wynn Las Vegas - said the house won on all but the Juvenile and the Turf.

Avello opened Stevie Wonderboy at 25-1 in August, and he was bet down to 5-1 when future betting was closed last Wednesday. Stevie Wonderboy went off on raceday at 9-2.

"With Las Vegas's proximity to California, it's logical that we took a lot of money on Stevie Wonderboy," Avello said of the Del Mar Futurity winner and biggest West Coast hope in the Juvenile. "We opened the other favorites much lower - like First Samurai at 5-1 - so we wouldn't have lost as much on them."

Avello opened Shirocco at 20-1 and saw him bet down to 12-1 before going off on race day at 8-1. But even though it was a loss for his book, Avello counted himself lucky.

"Azamour opened at 30-1 and was bet down to 3-1," he said. "Bago opened at 40-1 and was bet down to 7-2. Ace and Shakespeare were also bet big. All four of them would have been worse for the bottom line. I'll take my loss as long as it wasn't a monster loss."

Other BC future results:

Juvenile Fillies: Folklore opened at 8-1 in August and closed at 8-5 (2-1 at Belmont on raceday). There were many contenders in the race, and Avello dropped her odds as the race neared. As a result, he locked up profits on other horses.

Filly and Mare Turf: Intercontinental's odds were never higher than the 15-1 she went off at at Belmont. She opened at Wynn at 12-1 and closed at 6-1. She was also listed in the Mile.

Sprint: Silver Train opened at 18-1 and closed at 12-1 (11-1 at Belmont on raceday) and wasn't bet as much as Lost in the Fog (who was offered at 5-2) or Taste of Paradise (opened 50-1 and closed 8-1).

Mile: Artie Schiller was always considered a miler and was pointing for this race, so he opened at a relatively low 12-1 and closed at his ontrack price of 5-1. It certainly helped the book that Leroidesanimaux lost after being bet down from 12-1 to 8-5.

Distaff: Pleasant Home was a late addition to the future book and opened and closed at 20-1. Avello said a win by Happy Ticket, Sweet Symphony, or In the Gold would have been the worst results.

Classic: Saint Liam opened at 6-1 and closed at 9-5 (2-1 at Belmont on raceday). All the horses that didn't make it to the race pretty much clinched a winning day for the house, though big threats were runner-up Flower Alley (opened 60-1, closed 7-1) and Borrego (opened 40-1, closed 3-1).

Pick the Ponies winner

The first big Breeders' Cup Weekend winner here in Vegas came even before Saturday. On Friday, Greg Lee of Santa Monica, Calif., wrapped up his victory in the three-day Pick the Ponies XXVII at the Las Vegas Hilton to claim the top prize of $32,300.

The 170 players paid $500 (early bird entrants only paid $400 with the Hilton paying the extra $100) and made 10 mythical $100 across-the-board wagers each day. Points were based on the horse's mutuel prices, paying full track odds on the first $50 of each bet and the remaining $50 capped at $42 to win, $18 to place, and $10 to show.

After having a decent opening day, sitting tied for 16th place with 4,140 points after Wednesday's action, Lee scored 11,305 points on Thursday - the top score of the day, good for an additional $2,500 in daily prize money - to jump into the lead with 15,445. His two-day total would have been enough to win, but he tacked on some more Friday to finish with 18,050. Jim Schwartz of West Hollywood, Calif., was second with 14,490 points and collected $16,150. Donald Chambers of Foley, Ala., was third at 14,170 and won $7,650, plus another $425 for another entry that finished 29th.

They weren't the only winners at the Hilton over the weekend. "Breeders' Cup Day was amazing," said Charles Ludlow, race book supervisor. "We had a lot of winning in here, lots of people with big bets and big payoffs. It was W-2G City."

Handle at books up 21 percent

While the casinos here are built with the intention of winning your money, the beauty of the parimutuel race books is that they have no vested interest in seeing you lose and, in fact, want you to win so you keep betting more and drive up the handle, which increases their cut.

Nevada's race books handled $5,659,510 on the eight Breeders' Cup races, up more than 21 percent from last year's $4,662,922, according to Paul Dresser, controller for the state's wagering hub, Las Vegas Dissemination Company.

"I think handle was up for a lot of reasons," said Vinny Magliulo, vice president of marketing and corporate development for LVDC. "One was the addition of new race books like the Wynn Las Vegas. That always brings in bettors. We're also seeing more and more interest in the Breeders' Cup. It was also part of a big betting weekend overall, with the Breeders' Cup and football. The two complement each other nicely."