03/14/2003 1:00AM

Ex-pool player likes Inamorato


LAS VEGAS - "Timing is everything." That's what Gordon Jones said when asked about the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Jones hosts the "Track Talk" radio program every Wednesday through Sunday on KLAV AM-1230 (the program is also broadcast live on the Internet at samstownlv.com).

Last year at this time, Jones was telling his audience that there was tremendous value in betting on the field in Pool 2 of the Future Wager.

"At the time, I called it my best overlay Derby bet since Silver Charm [in 1997]," Jones said. "But I was wrong. Considering I said on the air that 85 percent of the real Derby talent was in the field, and you could get all those horses at 7-1, the bet was better than anything I had seen in a long time."

The field closed at 7-1, and paid off when War Emblem won. In fact,

Pool 2 field horses finished 1-2-4, with Proud Citizen second and Medaglia d'Oro fourth.

The public has pounded the field so far this year in the Future Wager. In Pool 1 last month, the field closed as the 2-1 favorite. Through Thursday, the first day of wagering on Pool 2, the field was down to 7-2.

"Those bettors are a year too late," Jones said. "I think this year's best horses are fairly obvious. As opposed to last year, 85 percent of the talent is in the top 23."

Even though he did well on last year's Future Wager, Jones said he still prefers the fixed-odds futures offered in Las Vegas race books, where you can lock in your price.

"The whole appeal of a future book is in the timing, finding a horse you like before everyone else does," Jones said on Friday. "For instance, if I like a longshot in one of these races this weekend, I can go around town and get a huge price on him in the Derby. In the parimutuel Future Wager, they don't close the pools until all those races are done, and now everyone gets on my bandwagon."

However, Jones will keep an eye on the pools Sunday, especially if some of this weekend's favorites in the Florida Derby and San Felipe Stakes run big races and get pounded in the pool, causing overlays on other horses.

"One horse I'm looking at is Inamorato," Jones said. "He had an impressive maiden win last year at Hollywood and then won last week on the sands of Dubai - and was faster than the older horses that ran the same day."

Through Thursday's Future Wager betting, Inamorato was 55-1.

Itching to make a football bet?

Through six weeks of the 16-game Arena Football League season, some betting patterns are starting to emerge.

Heading into this weekend's games, home-field advantage hasn't meant much as road teams are 25-19 (56.8 percent) against the spread with three pushes.

Oddsmakers have been pretty good at determining the team most likely to win as favorites are 33-14 straight up. Nevertheless, favorites are only 24-20 (54.5 percent) against the spread with three pushes.

As good as oddmakers have been at predicting winners, bettors are doing even better when they determine the favorite (either a game that opened at pick-'em and a team was bet to favoritism, or that had a change of favorites). Bettors are 5-1 both straight up and against the spread in such cases. A potential play Sunday is the Los Angeles Avengers vs. the Indiana Firebirds. The game opened at pick, but as of Friday morning L.A. was a 1-point road favorite.

The Avengers are among the best bets so far this year, having gone 4-1-1 against the spread. Orlando and Detroit are both 5-1 against the spread to lead the league. The worst teams to bet have been Carolina at 1-5 and Colorado at 1-4-1.

"Real" football

If the NFL is the only football that counts in your mind, there's been plenty of news to mull over the past few weeks with teams making cuts (often for salary-cap purposes) and free agents signing with new clubs. However, not much of this has had any impact on future book prices at Vegas sports books.

The defending champion Buccaneers and the Eagles are co-favorites to win the Super Bowl at 5-1, according to odds by Las Vegas Sports Consultants. No team has received a lot of action. Jake Plummer going to the Broncos and Kordell Stewart signing with the Bears doesn't do much for bettors' confidence. The Cardinals were raised from 200-1 to 300-1 after Plummer and David Boston were let go, and recent signings of Jeff Blake and Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson and the courtship of Emmitt Smith aren't enough to make the perennially poor franchise a contender.

* How about college football? At Caesars Palace, Ohio St. is the 3-1 favorite to repeat as national champions by winning the Sugar Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans on Jan. 4. Oklahoma is the second choice at 4-1, followed by Texas at 5-1, Miami (Fla.) at 6-1, Michigan at 7-1, and Kansas St. and Virginia Tech both at 8-1. There are 49 teams listed in the future book, including non-power conference teams with a snowball's chance such as Boise St. (200-1), Hawaii (200-1), Toledo (300-1), UNLV (600-1), and Fresno St. (800-1).

Blue Monday? No, it's a Green day

The New York-New York hotel and casino announced Thursday that it would be opening an Irish pub named Nine Fine Irishmen. The bad news is it doesn't open until July.

But there are plenty of other places for St. Patrick's Day revelers to find some fun Monday. Taverns with an Irish theme are all the rage in Las Vegas these days with Jack's Irish Pub at the Palace Station, Brendan's Irish Pub at The Orleans, and JC Wooloughan at the Rampart. And then there are popular St. Paddy's hangouts such as O'Shea's on the Strip and Fitzgeralds downtown.