10/29/2003 12:00AM

Halfbridled among favorites in Derby future wagering


The Breeders' Cup is barely behind us, but bettors are already putting money down on next year's Kentucky Derby.

In the previous 19 runnings of the Breeders' Cup, no winner of the Juvenile has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby the following spring. Well, would that jinx apply to the Juvenile Fillies winner?

After her impressive victory last Saturday, Halfbridled was lowered to 30-1 in the Park Place Entertainment future book, run by Bally's race and sports director John Avello. That was the same price he put up on Juvenile winner Action This Day.

"At this point, Halfbridled is certainly running faster than the boys," Avello said. "Her trainer [Richard Mandella] is pretty cautious and will only run her against the boys if she's a real standout. There's a long time between now and the Derby. We'll have to wait and see which course they take."

But, in the meantime, Avello will book the action. In fact, enough bets were made on Halfbridled at 30-1 that Avello dropped her to 25-1 earlier this week.

The future book favorite is Norfolk Stakes winner Ruler's Court at 20-1. His connections - as well as those of other 2-year-old graded-stakes winners such as Silver Wagon (30-1), Birdstone (30-1), and Eurosilver (40-1) - bypassed the Breeders' Cup, apparently to avoid the jinx.

Cuvee, the beaten favorite in the Juvenile, was raised from a prerace 75-1 up to 100-1 after his last-place finish in the field of 12.

Spooky birthday for Nevada

Everyone knows that Friday is Halloween, but it's also Nevada Day. This state joined the Union on Oct. 31, 1864, and is one of only three states to hold an official celebration on its birthday. A five-day festival with all sorts of wholesome entertainment and a parade is held in the state capital, Carson City, near Reno in the northern part of the state.

However, in the southern part of the state, there is no official Nevada Day festivities, with Halloween being the celebration of choice, and the events are of a much more adult nature. For those who missed the "Fantasy & Fetish" party at the Orleans Arena last weekend, there are plenty of parties planned for this weekend, including:

* Friday - "Nightmare on 54th Street" (Studio 54 at the MGM Grand), "Leather and Lace Gala" (Palms), "Night of the Living Dolls" (OPM at Caesars Palace's Forum Shops), "Big Baby's Trick or Freak" (Baby's at the Hard Rock), "Monster Bash" (Club Rio), and the "Stratosfear Pool Deck Party" (Stratosphere).

* Saturday - "Nightmare on 54th Street" (Studio 54 at the MGM Grand) and the "Halloween Pajama & Lingerie Party" (BiKiNiS at the Rio).

A full list with details can be found at www.vegas.com.

Among the more than a dozen haunted houses around the valley, the wildest is the Little Demon's Dungeon outside the Little Darlings gentlemen's club. It's open only to those 18 and older, from 8 p.m. to midnight through Saturday.

Back to the sporting world . . .

Luther Mack resigned Tuesday as the chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission to take a position on the board of directors at Boyd Gaming. The commission's most high-profile role is overseeing boxing matches in the state, though it also handles wrestling and martial-arts cards.

John Bailey assumes the chairmanship role until a formal vote takes place at the end of the year. The fifth spot on the commission - which also includes Reno businessman Skip Avansino and Las Vegas physicians Tony Alamo and Flip Homansky - was filled by Joe Brown, a Las Vegas lawyer. Brown was a founding member of the board of directors for the UNLV Boxing Club (he resigned Monday) and has been involved in recent reforms to implement mandatory MRI testing.

The biggest loser in these changes could be Mike Tyson, who has had to fight elsewhere after being denied a Nevada boxing license in January 2002 by a 4-1 vote. Mack was the only commissioner in Tyson's corner.

Football contest updates

After tying for two weeks in a row with 5-2 records, oddsmaker Kenny White finally eliminated Lem Banker in their first-round match of the Stardust Invitational. White went 5-2 again last week, while Banker went 4-3. In the regularly scheduled match between handicapper Bryan Leonard and Gaming Today managing editor David Stratton, they tied with records of 4-3 with winners on their best bets, so they will give seven more plays apiece this weekend.

The final first-round match will be this Friday night between handicapper and local radio personality Ron Frazier and former Mirage sports book director Jimmy Vaccaro, who will be sending in his picks from his new job at The Atlantis Resort-Casino in the Bahamas. Vaccaro is also giving away a $550 bet on his best bet to be raffled off during the show, from 9-10 p.m. in the Stardust sports book.

* "Peter & Paul" went 3-2 last week to hold on to the lead in the Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest with a record of 30-10 (75 percent) through eight weeks. "Soup Du Jour" also went 3-2 to hold onto second place at 28-11-1. The former leader, "thesportspage.com" (Mark Franco of Vegas Insider), went 2-3 to drop into a three-way tie at 28-12 with "Bob and Ben" and "Magic Mike." The SuperContest drew a record 346 entries this year at $1,500 per, and it allows contestants to use aliases for the posting of their five NFL sides each week. First prize in the contest will be $207,600.

* Station Casinos Gambler's Challenge, which has similar rules to the SuperContest but with a $1,000 entry fee and a few college games and NFL over/unders included in each week's choices, has a new leader in "AJ Sports," who went 3-2 last week and has a record of 26-13-1. "Bman" is in second at 25-13-2, with "Jarhead" in third at 25-14-1.

* Selections of the SuperContest and Gambler's Challenge contestants will be available in the respective sports books on Friday afternoon.