01/16/2003 1:00AM

Eclipse Award futures, just for fun

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Horseplayers in town for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship undoubtedly will be perusing the future book odds made available by John Avello, the director of the racing and sports book at Bally's Las Vegas and Paris, Bally's neighboring casino.

Avello has future odds on the Kentucky Derby (Vindication has been pounded down to 3-1), the Kentucky Oaks (Avello put up the odds just this week for tournament players, with Storm Flag Flying the 5-1 favorite) and the Breeders' Cup Classic (Medaglia d'Oro is the tepid 10-1 favorite in a race that will be run nine months from now).

However, the most discussion may be created by odds Avello has posted, but can not take bets on because of Nevada gaming regulations prohibiting bets on things that are voted on or otherwise not decided on a field of play. Regardless, for entertainment purposes only, Avello has created odds on the Eclipse Award categories.

Some are no-brainers, such as the aforementioned Storm Flag Flying at 1-9 to be named top 2-year-old filly, Vindication (2-5) for 2-year-old colt or gelding, Orientate (1-2) for top sprinter, Jerry Bailey (2-5) for top jockey, and Bobby Frankel (1-5) for top trainer.

Several categories are open to debate, however.

Three-year-old colt or gelding: Medaglia d'Oro (6-5) or War Emblem (7-5)?

Older horse: Street Cry (8-5) or Left Bank (9-5)?

Male turf horse: High Chaparral (even) or Rock of Gibraltar (6-5)?

Female turf horse: Golden Apples (6-5) or Starine (9-5)?

For Horse of the Year honors, Avello has Azeri at 1-5, followed by Rock of Gibraltar (5-1), War Emblem (20-1), and Left Bank (25-1).

* The DRF/NTRA wraps up Saturday night with the final race set for about 6 p.m. The awards dinner will be at 7 p.m. in the Skyview Room at Bally's, where the winner of the $100,000 first-place prize and title of Handicapper of the Year will be announced.

* In addition to the Coast 2 Coast Super Tournament at the Suncoast and Barbary Coast this weekend, the progressive jackpot in the Imperial Palace's Super Saturday contest bears watching at $8,260. If there are 153 entries, which is very probable with so many players just a few blocks away, and someone racks up 138 points in the contest - based on mutuel prices and bonus points on three races from both Aqueduct and Santa Anita - he will walk away with a minimum of $10,000. The entry deadline is noon.

Potential Super Bowl matchups

For those who are leaving town before Sunday's NFC and AFC championship games are played, the Palms, just west of the Strip on Flamingo Road, has lines on all the potential Super Bowl matchups. The Raiders are a 2 1/2-point favorite over the Eagles and a 5-point choice over the Buccaneers. The Eagles are 3 1/2-point favorites over the Titans, with the Bucs a slim 1 1/2-point choice over the Titans.

All bets are refunded on matchups that don't materialize, and winning tickets or refunds can be cashed through the mail.

Shying from parlay cards

An annual warning: Beware of special playoff parlay cards that feature sides, totals, and proposition wagers. The payoffs aren't that great - 6 for 1 (which is the equivalent of 5-1) for three winning picks, 11 for 1 (or 10-1) on four-teamers, 20 for 1 for five teams, and pretty much double the payoff for each subsequent number - but the real way these cards take your money is on ties, since ties lose.

What are the odds of that? These cards are designed to have the most ties possible. The point spreads on cards I've seen have the Eagles -4 vs. the Bucs and a total of 34 and the Raiders -8 vs. the Titans and a total of 47. If you bet those off the board and they land on the number, it's a push and you get a refund, but on these cards you lose. The same with the props. The number of total interceptions (2), fumbles lost (2), field goals made (3), and total sacks (5) are all the most likely numbers to occur in an NFL game. I've seen cards that pay 600 for 1 to anyone who hits 10 for 10. I'll buy dinner - at the best restaurant in the casino that the card is from - for anyone who can negotiate that minefield.

* As football season winds down, bettors are starting to think more about basketball. With so many NBA and college games to choose from, the vig can really eat into your bankroll. The Las Vegas Club, located downtown, has a businessman's lunch special, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday through Friday, in which you only have to lay five-percent vig. If you're used to betting $110 each game, you only have to lay $105.

How to beat the house - for free

If you're looking for more ways to make your gambling dollar last, the Sunset Station is in the midst of hosting more than 50 free Beat the House seminars this weekend. The seminars began Friday, with most concentrating on table games and slots, and continue Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Jerry Jacovitz will discuss his Power Page sheets and horse handicapping at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Sports bettors also have a Saturday session with Sports Money Management and Bankroll Strategies presented by Tony Stoffo, a bookmaker turned handicapper, at 11:30 a.m. On Sunday, the crew from vegasinsider.com will preview that day's NFC and AFC title games at 9:30 a.m., and then return at 7 p.m. for a Super Bowl preview.

Rare good news for Iron Mike

Luther Mack was re-elected chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission by a 5-0 vote this past week.

That's good news for Mike Tyson. A year ago this week, Tyson was denied a Nevada boxing license by a 4-1 vote. The one vote in his favor was Mack's.

As a result, Tyson had to fight Lennox Lewis in Memphis, Tenn., instead of Las Vegas, significantly cutting into the overall purse. Tyson lost that fight, but has been seeking a rematch. Tyson needs to raise $6 million to satisfy the terms of his divorce settlement this past week.

Tyson's next match is set for Feb. 22 in Memphis vs. Clifford Etienne. Tyson is a -600 favorite (lay $6 to win $1).

If he wins, tentative plans called for him to fight Lewis, who has a fight in the works for either April 12 or 16 vs. Vitali Klitschko. A Lewis-Klitschko fight is in question, however, since it hasn't been scheduled and time is running out to secure a venue in Las Vegas. If the Tyson-Lewis rematch happens, you can be certain Tyson will re-apply for a Nevada license and it will certainly help to have Mack in his corner.