09/05/2002 11:00PM

Fairplex means time to take a break - or not

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The nonstop world of Las Vegas full-card simulcasting can break a bankroll if you're not careful and sap your strength if you don't take time off.

The meet most local horseplayers take a respite from is Fairplex Park, which must feel like the Rodney Dangerfield of Southern California's racetracks. This perceived lack of interest shows in lower than normal afternoon attendance in Las Vegas race books.

Even the handicappers for the local newspapers, the Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review-Journal, take a vacation during Fairplex. As for the many handicapping contests, some are suspended until Oak Tree and some continue through Fairplex.

The popularity of these contests has grown tremendously among out-of-town visitors because they are promoted in newspapers and on local radio shows. Here is a list of what race book managers are doing with their contests during the Fairplex meet:

* The Excalibur handicapping contest will continue on Wednesdays. The only change is that it will use the first eight Thoroughbred races on the Fairplex card.

* The Imperial Palace Super Saturday contest will continue. The contest uses three designated races from whichever track is open in New York and Southern California. So for the next three weeks it will be Belmont Park and Fairplex.

* The Las Vegas Hilton contest and twin quinella will be suspended until Oak Tree.

* The Poker Palace head-to-head matchups will continue.

* The Rampart, formerly the Regent, will continue its twin quinella five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays.

* The Station Casinos' seven-property Win and In the Money contest on Wednesdays will take a hiatus during Fairplex. Also, their twin quinella will take a break until Oak Tree.

* The Sunset Station Win and In the Money contest on Fridays will be suspended until Oak Tree.

* The Texas Station handicapping contest, offered Mondays and Wednesdays through Fridays, will be suspended during Fairplex.

* The Union Plaza will continue its twin quinella five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays. Typically, the downtown race book prefers to use Midwest tracks. Its free $1,000 contest on Fridays will be suspended for two weeks until Oak Tree.

* The Sam's Town contest on Saturdays was suspended because of the start of football season. It will return in early 2003.

Here is a reminder that Sam's Town stalwart Gordon Jones and his daughter, Joanne Jones, will be commentators on the Fairplex simulcast. So there will be a little bit of Las Vegas emanating from Pomona even if some of the folks back here are resting.

Richard Eng is the turf editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and host of the Race Day Las Vegas Wrap Up Show.