09/22/2005 11:00PM

Bryant builds new racing relationships


Little did Brad Bryant, race and sports director at the Aladdin, realize that his love for horse racing would cause such a buzz throughout the race and sports book industry here in Las Vegas.

Ask Bryant, 36, if his small corner-of-the-casino locale books the action, and he will quickly tell you, "Step up to the window."

You see, you can take Bryant out of Texas, but you can't take the horses out of the "Bomber," as he is known among those who also know how he bets horses.

Since returning to the race and sports book scene in Las Vegas when he took the position at the Aladdin in December 2003, Bryant has been trying to break new ground. Or more to the point, trying to find the middle ground between his love of racing and his job of running a race and sports book on the Strip.

From his roots as a Lone Star Park mutuel clerk in 1996, Bryant has always subscribed to the notion that racetracks and race books are catering to the same audience. And, since more tracks now subsidize racing with slots as racinos, the time was right to bridge the gap.

Bryant started his bridge-building by forming a joint relationship with Del Mar. Del Mar served as host for a Kentucky Derby Day event at the Aladdin this year. In turn, the Aladdin had a day at Del Mar on Pacific Classic Day. The cross-promotion has spawned other such relationships. And, in turn, it has benefited the customers.

"It was primarily a way to introduce each others' players to individual properties," Bryant said.

Such relationships provide the Aladdin with exposure to expand outside the usual Las Vegas marketplace while showing race players an appreciation of having their business.

Now that Bryant has taken care of the horseplayers, it was time to move on to the horse owners. Or, at least the creation of some. Late Thursday, the Aladdin, soon to become Planet Hollywood Hotel Casino, announced that it has joined forces with West Point Thoroughbreds Inc. West Point creates and manages racing partnerships. Started in 1991, West Point races horses in its trademark yellow-and-black silks from coast to coast. According to its website, West Point boasts a 16-percent win rate with purse earnings of $741,615 already this year. The organization has been aggressive in its approach of offering participation in horse ownership at every economic level. That philosophy fit Bryant like a glove.

Bryant saw an opportunity to bridge another customer base common to his race and sports book. Las Vegas has a surprisingly large population of horse owners, from MGM Mirage chief Terry Lanni to other casino executives, retired businesspeople, and just a wide range of transplanted racing fans. But, although West Point will be actively recruiting Sin City partners, it was West Point's existing clientele that appealed to Bryant.

Now the Aladdin/Planet Hollywood is the "official" Las Vegas home for West Point Thoroughbreds and West Point partners. West Point partners will receive special room rates and exclusive packages.

While Bryant stays proactive with creating new racing relationships, he is busy working on the new Planet Hollywood racing digs. The 4,800-square-foot, high-tech race book will feature personal monitors, plasma televisions in a lounge-type atmosphere, highlighted by a full-service bar.

As the Breeders' Cup approaches, we can only imagine a Del Mar-hosted party for a full house of horseplayers in the new Planet Hollywood race book who someday may be rooting for a West Point Thoroughbred to win the Kentucky Derby.

Ralph Siraco is the turf editor of the Las Vegas Sun and host of the Race Day Las Vegas radio show.