10/27/2011 1:41PM

Breeders' Cup seminars up and down the Strip

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Breeders’ Cup Week officially gets under way here every year with the Pick the Ponies handicapping tournament at the Las Vegas Hilton. It runs Wednesday through Friday, so the final day now lands on the first day of the BC. The entry fee is $500, but it’s just $450 for those signing up by the early-bird deadline, which has been extended to 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31. Players make 10 mythical $100 across-the-board wagers each day. Based on a full field of 200 (they limit it to that so everyone can sit in the SuperBook, the biggest race and sports book in town), the prize pool would be $100,000, with $38,000 going to the contestant posting the highest score.

For those who want to compete in a contest on the second day of the Breeders’ Cup on Saturday, Nov. 5, Jerry’s Nugget in North Las Vegas offers a smaller contest with a $10 entry fee and a guaranteed prize pool of $500.

Another BC Week tradition here in Las Vegas is handicapping seminars, and there are a half-dozen scheduled this year. The Palace Station hosts the first seminar of the week at 6 p.m. Thursday as Ralph Siraco of the Raceday Las Vegas radio show, Richard Saber of the GamingToday newspaper, and Palace race book manager Vic Viveo break down all 15 Breeders’ Cup races over the two days.

On Friday, there are four seminars spread throughout the valley.

Richard Eng of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Siraco will be at the Gold Coast on Flamingo Road just west of the Strip throughout Friday, giving mini-seminars between BC races starting about 12:30 p.m. as well as giving a look-ahead to Saturday’s card. Dan Shapiro, marketing director for Lucky’s Race & Sports Books, and yours truly, Dave Tuley, will do a seminar at the new Riviera book on the Las Vegas Strip at 5 p.m. Friday, shortly after the Ladies’ Classic. At 6 p.m., handicapper Patrick McQuiggan, clocker Toby Turrell, and John Kelly of EOG.com will be at the South Point on the south end of the valley, while Jerry Jacovitz of jerryjpowerpage.com will be at Texas Station in North Las Vegas at 6:15 p.m.

On Saturday, handicapper Jon Lindo and Siraco (the man is everywhere!) will do a seminar about 10:15 a.m. at the Orleans as part of the Breeders’ Cup viewing party in the Mardi Gras Ballroom after Lindo does his Thoroughbred Los Angeles Digest Radio Show.

Back to the betting board

I went 2-1 last week as the Bears-Bucs game stayed under the total and the Falcons beat the Lions outright, but then lost (badly) with the Colts vs. the Saints.

Jaguars +9.5 vs. Texans

I’ve said a lot this year that the Texans haven’t learned how to handle success and that they’re much more comfortable in the role of underdog (like they were last week vs. the Titans). Marc Lawrence of playbook.com says that’s supported by his database that says Houston is 0-4 against the spread as a favorite in a division game under coach Gary Kubiak when they’re .500 or better. Granted, that’s a small sample (as the Texans haven’t been over .500 much in their history), but it’s proven true so far, and they’re facing a Jacksonville team coming off a confidence-boosting upset of the Ravens on Monday night. With the Colts winless and the Jaguars just two games behind the Texans, the Jaguars have to at least be feeling that they have a shot at stealing the division if they can get a win here and should be able to have back-to-back inspired performances, even with this one on the road.

PLAY: Jaguars for 1 unit.

Vikings +3.5 vs. Panthers

I’ve been a supporter (or at least a selfish financial backer with my betting dollars) of Cam Newton since the start of the year, and he’s come through with a 5-1-1 record against the spread. However, all good things must come to an end, and I think oddsmakers are catching up with him, plus I still rate the Panthers below the Vikings, so getting more than a field goal is nice here. I was pleasantly surprised by the play of Minnesota rookie QB Christian Ponder against a much tougher Green Bay defense and actually upgraded them off that performance. I think Ponder gets his first victory against a Carolina team that, while improved like the Texans, also is learning how to win.

PLAY: Vikings for 1 unit.

Redskins-Bills over/under 46

I’ve won my top totals play here the past two weeks, so I’ll go with another here in this game played up in Toronto. The Bills are coming off a bye. That hasn’t been good for teams so far this year, with more restrictions on practice time due to the new collective bargaining agreement as teams are 3-9 straight up and 4-6-2 against the spread, but the under is 9-3 in those team’s games as well. The Redskins’ defense has to show up, if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive, plus I don’t expect the Skins to light up the scoreboard.

PLAY: Redskins-Bills under 46 points for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-1 for a net profit of 1.9 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). NFL season record: 5-12 for a net loss of 8.2 units.