06/22/2004 11:00PM

Horseplayers meet the real world


Andy Warhol's statement in 1968 that "in the future everybody will be famous for 15 minutes" seems more and more prophetic every day.

It's especially true with the current rash of reality TV shows, in which regular folks become household names before being tossed in the pop culture trash bin after their proverbial 15 minutes are up. But it's fun while it lasts.

"American Casino," which features the Station Casinos-owned Green Valley Ranch in suburban Henderson, gives the star treatment to some regular horseplayers this Friday night on the Discovery Channel (8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, and replayed at 11 p.m.), as the show chronicles their trip to Santa Anita back on March 3. What is significant about this trip is that it turned out to be the day of the biggest pick six jackpot in history, as the pool grew to more than $7.3 million after a three-day carryover in excess of $1.4 million.

"We had made the plans to go that day and to have the film crew there," said Kelly Downey, the race and sports book manager. "It just happened to fall on the day of the big pick 6 carryover, and it worked out really good."

Downey, race book supervisor Jack Schneider, and marketing manager David Denotmilan invited seven of their best race book customers and flew them to Santa Anita for the day. Downey, who received some face-time in the pilot episode that was shot during Super Bowl weekend, said the three hotel employees pretty much stayed in the background and let the focus be on their players, who had to sign release forms to allow the cameras to follow them all day.

Downey said he hasn't been shown an advance copy of this episode, so he'll be seeing it for the first time with everyone else Friday night.

One of the criticisms of reality TV is that a lot of it doesn't seem "real." Some of the plotlines seem contrived, and it's more than a little difficult to appear spontaneous when everyone knows there are cameras all around. But as we know, there's no predicting what will take place at a day at the track, so it should be interesting.

We do know, however, that none of the Green Valley players had one of the three winning pick six tickets - worth $1,567,984 apiece - because they were sold at Churchill Downs Trackside, through New York OTB, and the Viejas Casino outside San Diego.

"On average, they film 300 hours to make a 43-minute show, so we have no clue what will be shown," he said. "The players were doing their own thing, going to the paddock and watching the races from different angles, and the cameras followed them everywhere."

Downey said the hotel has got nothing but good publicity from the show.

"It's all in fun," he said. "People come up all the time and say they saw me on the show. I'm sure me and my staff will get a lot more feedback after this show airs, because it's mostly about our trip."

Downey also said the next "American Casino" that should prominently feature the race and sports book will be for the Kentucky Derby, though the date at which the episode will be aired has not been announced.

Interleague play spices up dog days

Baseball betting can be a grind, with games every single day. Traditionally, there hasn't been much to change the routine with the same teams seemingly always playing the same teams. But in recent years, with the advent of interleague play, there can at least be some spikes in the baseball handle at Las Vegas sports books.

"This year, we've seen quite a bit of interest," said Doug Castaneda, race and sports book shift supervisor at the Stardust. "Not as much from the professional bettors - they're still leery of it because it's less predictable - but the public is gung-ho about interleague play; they really look forward to it."

Castaneda said it's slowed down with some of the recent series - "I've had a lot of regulars come in and say, 'This interleague stuff is pretty hard,' " he said. It should pick up again this weekend, when several highly anticipated series between geographical rivals take place: Yankees-Mets, Cubs-White Sox, Cardinals-Royals, Astros-Rangers, Giants-A's, and even Devil Rays-Marlins.

"This weekend is huge," Castaneda said. "A lot of times with interleague play you'll have series that no one cares about. And we'll have all the big matchups on TV, and that's what the public likes to see."

Handicappers' note: With the exception of the Angels-Dodgers, all of the aforementioned series will be played in the ballpark of the American League teams and the designated hitter rule will be in effect, so fans might get to see something else they like - high-scoring games. But bettors beware before taking the over, the oddsmakers know this fact and will have the totals shaded higher.

* On another Stardust note. The sports book will turn into Notre Dame West this weekend, when seven former Golden Domers will be meeting the public and signing autographs Friday, from 6-8 p.m., and Saturday, from 2-4 p.m., including running back Jerome Bettis, defensive end Ross Browner, tackle Bill Fischer, linebacker Bob Golic, quarterback George Izo, guard Myron Pottios, and quarterback Tony Rice.

Speaking of college football

Las Vegas Sports Consultants has defending co-national champion Southern California (or USC, as most of us still call it) as the 4-1 favorite to win the BCS title game, which will take place Jan 4. in the Orange Bowl at Pro Player Stadium in Miami.

Oklahoma and Georgia are next on LVSC's list, at 5-1, followed by the other co-national champ, LSU, at 8-1. Texas, Florida St., and Miami-Fla. are at 10-1, and Michigan is at 12-1.

Notre Dame is a longshot at 75-1, but don't expect to see odds that high at LVSC's sports books clients, especially with Fighting Irish fans hitting the sports books this weekend.

Due to Nevada gaming regulations, you won't find odds on who will win the Heisman Trophy, but offshore books like Olympic (thegreek.com) are under no such restrictions. Olympic has Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinart and Kansas St. running back Darren Sproles as the co-favorites at 5-1, and Oklahoma quarterback Jason White at 8-1, as he tries to become only the second player to win two Heismans, joining former Ohio St. running back Archie Griffin.