07/27/2003 11:00PM

Empire Maker Classic choice


NEW YORK - Empire Maker, a 3-year-old and winner of this year's Belmont Stakes, was made the 3.70-1 favorite over star older horse Mineshaft and others by Breeders' Cup Classic bettors last weekend.

A sum of $71,034 was bet on the Classic future wager, which opened on Friday and closed Sunday night. Mineshaft is the second choice at 5.20-1, followed by the field, at 9.90-1.

Three other Breeders' Cup races - the Turf, Distaff, and Sprint - were also offered for future bets. In total, the four races took in $160,759 in bets.

Future wagering on the Classic, Turf, Distaff, and Sprint will be offered again on the weekend of Aug. 29-Sept. 1. Future betting on the other four races on the Breeders' Cup card - the Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, Filly and Mare Turf, and Mile - will be offered on the weekend of Sept. 19-21.

The Breeders' Cup will be held on Oct. 25 at Oak Tree at Santa Anita in Southern California.

Ken Kirchner, the director of simulcasting for Breeders' Cup, said that "overall, we're pleased" with the wagering totals for the first pool. But handle was hurt by a lack of cooperation from many tracks, he added.

"We've already heard from some players that they had trouble getting the odds, that some mutuel tellers didn't even know the bet was available," Kirchner said. "Clearly, much more needs to be done to communicate to tracks the availability of the bet."

Kirchner said that Breeders' Cup provided a television signal displaying the odds to tracks, but that competition from live and simulcast racing signals crowded out the odds feed at many tracks.

In the Turf, the favorite is the field, at 6.40-1, over the 23 individual betting choices. Alamshar, the winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes in England on Saturday, is the second choice at 7.60-1, but Alamshar's plans for the fall are uncertain.

In the Distaff, Azeri, the winner of 10 races in a row, is the 3.10-1 favorite. The second and third choices are Sightseek and Wild Spirit, at 6.20-1 and 6.40-1, respectively.

In the Sprint, the field is the 5.20-1 favorite, followed by Beau's Town at 6.60-1.

Beau's Town was 30-1 on the morning line, but his victory in the Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar on Sunday clearly impressed many bettors.