02/25/2004 12:00AM

Beyer first speaker in Horseplayers Expo

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At this weekend's Daily Racing Form Horseplayers Expo 2004 at the Paris Hotel and Casino, attendees will be learning from the past experiences of more than two dozen industry experts.

Friday's activities begin at 9 a.m., with Andrew Beyer expected to have a full room while discussing "The Supertrainers." In contrast to Expo 2000, where there were often three panels being held concurrently, this time there will never be more than two at once.

Computer programmer David Ward will be giving a sneak preview of the latest version of Formulator, the online software that gives handicappers the ability to manipulate DRF's past performances to customize a horse's race lines.

Version 4.0, which will be available in the spring, adds a Trainer Form tool, giving users the opportunity to do their own research on 18 different categories.

"If trainer Steve Asmussen is running a maiden on the turf at Fair Grounds, second off a layoff, with six weeks between starts," Ward said, "Formulator 4.0 will filter out the requested variables to give you a summary and detailed results of all of Asmussen's maiden starters at Fair Grounds that have run on the turf, second start off a layoff, with six weeks between starts."

Another addition is full chart navigation - not only for a given horse's previous races, but also for the other charts from the cards on which that horse ran.

"This offers Formulator users the ability to access a horse's chart simply by clicking on a running line," Ward said. "But on another level, this function really will take the player much deeper into the charts. They'll be able to access the rest of the charts on a given card to determine speed biases; they'll be able to navigate back and forth within charts to confirm or debunk the form of a given race."

All Horseplayers Expo 2004 activities will take place in the Champagne ballrooms in the convention area at the Paris Hotel and Casino. The full schedule of seminars and speakers is available at www.drf.com/expo. The complete cost is $399, with daily passes available for $185.

On Sunday morning, there will be Day-of-the-Races seminars on Aqueduct, Gulfstream, and Santa Anita. Attendees and panelists will be able to put everything they learn to the test Sunday in a $100 buy-in handicapping contest. Players make 10 mythical $2 across-the-board bets on races at Aqueduct and Gulfstream, with 100 percent of the entry fees being returned as prizes.

Other handicapping contest news

This Friday was supposed to be the last day of the free $2,000 handicapping contests held each Wednesday through Friday at the Coast Casinos - The Orleans, Gold Coast, Barbary Coast, and Suncoast. But Bob Gregorka, director of race book operations, announced this week that the contests will continue through April 16, the last Friday of the Santa Anita meet.

Players pick a horse, plus an alternate, in the first five races at Santa Anita and earn points based on the horse's mutuel price for the place it finishes, plus 10 points for a win, 5 for place, and 3 for show. The entrant who earns the most points wins $1,200, and the runner-up wins $800.

The only week the contests won't be run is March 24-26, when The Championship at The Orleans will be held.

* The Championship at The Orleans, the largest horse handicapping tournament in the world in terms of paid entrants and prize money, will go on despite the recent purchase of Coast Casinos by Boyd Gaming Inc. Next month's event is expected to attract 700 entries at $500 apiece and a total purse of $400,000 after The Orleans kicks in an additional $50,000.

The Las Vegas Hilton's biannual Pick the Ponies tournament, held the three days before the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup, isn't so lucky. The spring event, originally scheduled for April 28-30, is being canceled, according to Hilton race and sports book director Cyril Burger.

The Hilton is in the process of being sold to real estate investment firm Colony Capital LLC, and Burger said that with the timing of the transition - expected to be completed in late spring - and the tournament being less than nine weeks away, they weren't able to get everything approved in time.

Burger said he hopes to resume the Pick the Ponies tourneys in the fall, along with the Hilton SuperContest, the richest and most prestigious football contest in Las Vegas.

Fight game down but not out

With Mike Tyson falling further out of favor with the public and Lennox Lewis retiring recently, the sport of boxing is in need of some new stars (especially when the most exciting ring action we've seen lately is that Adidas ad with Muhammad Ali vs. his daughter, Laila).

Until Sylvester Stallone's new reality show about boxing comes along, we'll have to see if some upcoming bouts catch the public's fancy. This Saturday night, Erik Morales tries to take Jesus Chavez's WBC super featherweight belt in a 12-round bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Despite being the challenger, Morales is a -330 favorite, with the buyback on Chavez at +250.

The next marquee fight in Las Vegas is March 13 at Mandalay Bay between Shane Mosley and Winky Wright in a super welterweight unification bout. Mosley holds the WBA and WBC belts, while Wright is the IBF champion. Mosley is also a -330 favorite, as he is trying to set up a major fight versus Felix Trinidad in September or November.

A Mosley-Trinidad bout could add to an exciting revival of big bouts later in the year. The anticipated Oscar De La Hoya-Bernard Hopkins middleweight championship fight is slated for Sept. 18 at the MGM Grand, if both get by their warmup bouts June 5.