06/26/2005 11:00PM

First-day bankroll holds up


There's an old saying that's still uttered in many tournament settings - from golf to poker to horse racing. You can't win it on the first day but you can sure lose it.

Fred Cipriano of Boca Raton, Fla., probably doesn't buy into that way of thinking.

He won the Summer Showdown handicapping contest at the Reno Hilton last weekend with all of his scoring coming on the first day of play on Saturday. He scored no points on Sunday.

The Summer Showdown drew 68 entries at $200 apiece with each contestant making $300 in parimutuel wagers on each day. They were able to bet on 11 contest tracks and use up to superfectas in an individual race and up to a pick four in multi-race wagers.

According to Hilton race and sports book director Don Bourcier, Cipriano made a late score Saturday to finish with $1,830 in earnings from his starting bankroll of $300. John Linkletter, also from Florida, was in second place by a mere $40 at $1,790.

Try as they might, both blanked on Sunday, but no one - even with a star-studded field of well-known tournament champions such as Joe Hinson, Damian Roncevich, Tom Quigley, Dane Moore, and Jim Dempster - was able to catch them.

Since it's a live-money tournament (instead of just based on points), everyone was able to keep the proceeds from their winning tickets. Cipriano added the $5,440 first-place prize for total earnings of $7,240 on his original investment of $800 - $1,600 if you count a second entry he bought. Linkletter picked up $3,128 for placing second for total earnings of $4,918.

In addition, both earned a berth in the Horseplayers World Series to held at the Orleans in Las Vegas on Jan. 19-21, including round-trip airfare from Florida and hotel accommodations.

Bourcier said many in the field for the Summer Showdown contestants did a lot of traveling as the field included players from 11 states, plus Canada.

Coast contests feature carryovers

Las Vegas horseplayers don't have to travel far to go for some nice cash prizes this week.

The weekly contests at the Coast Casinos (the Orleans, Gold Coast, Barbary Coast, Suncoast), in which handicappers try to pick the first five races at Hollywood Park, have carryovers in their 5-for-5 progressive bonus.

Wednesday, the carryover is $6,450 for the contest with a $5 entry fee, and a limit of 10 entries per person.

Thursday, the carryover is even juicier at $51,600 in the $10 buy-in contest with a cap of 15 entries per person.

The deadline each day is post time of the first race, 1:20 p.m.

Sports book notes

Las Vegas could lay claim to boxing bragging rights last Saturday night. Floyd Mayweather Jr., of Las Vegas, beat Arturo Gatti, of Jersey City, N.J., in Atlantic City to win the WBC super lightweight title.

Despite being the challenger, Mayweather was a -400 favorite and made that price look cheap. According to CompuBox stats, he landed 168 punches, including 115 power punches, compared to 41 and 10 for Gatti, whose corner threw in the towel before the seventh round. Mayweather certainly lived up to one of his nicknames - Pretty Boy Floyd - as his face looked untouched after the fight.

* Texas won the College World Series on Sunday by sweeping the first two games in the best-of-three championship series. Early in the year, Texas was considered one of the top contenders (preseason No. 4 by Baseball America) and among the top choices in the future books here in Vegas. But when the field was reduced to eight when the tourney moved to Omaha, Neb., on June 17, Texas was the next-to-last choice at 9-1 in the odds by Las Vegas Sports Consultants. It was an overlay that I missed.

* On the PGA Tour, Padraig Harrington sank a 65-foot eagle putt Sunday on the final hole of the Barclays Classic at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y. Harrington was the co-fourth choice at 20-1 but he looked like a much bigger longshot when he was three shots behind third choice Jim Furyk (12-1) with five holes to play. But bogeys by Furyk on holes No. 16 and 17 opened the door for Harrington's dramatics.

* The LPGA also had a fantastic finish as the appropriately named (even if it wasn't her original name) Birdie Kim birdied the final hole of the U.S. Women's Open with a 30-foot blast out of the sand on the final hole of the tournament. With very little interest in betting on women's golf except when the LPGA comes to town, the Las Vegas Hilton only had odds on Annika Sorenstam vs. the field as she was seeking the third leg of the Grand Slam. That proposition was decided well before Kim's shot as Sorenstam finished 12-over.

* Tony Stewart won Sunday's Dodge Savemart 350 Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., as the second choice at 5-1. Jeff Gordon, the heavy favorite at around 2-1 to 5-2 at local sports books, had transmission problems and finished 33rd after starting on the pole.

* The Spurs closed out their third NBA title in seven years last Thursday with a thrilling, back-and-forth 81-74 victory over the Pistons. It was even more exciting for bettors as the most widely available line on the game was Spurs -4 1/2 and the Pistons launched the proverbial "meaningless" 3-pointer at the buzzer but it missed.

The NBA draft was to be held Tuesday night, but since rookies don't often make much of an immediate impact and the best youngsters generally go to the worst teams, which are more than a player or two away, the odds to win next year's title aren't expected to be altered unless an established veteran is dealt to a new team. LVSC has the Spurs as the 7-2 favorite with the Heat and Pistons at 5-1, the Suns at 6-1, and the Mavericks and Pacers at 10-1.