04/16/2006 11:00PM

Horseplayers try to hit the jackpot


Wednesdays and Thursdays in the race books here can be pretty quiet. There aren't the major stakes races to draw in the crowds to the books on the Strip, and the local books are usually just filled with the dyed-in-the-wool horseplayers who play every time there is a call to post.

Sometimes a pick-six carryover from the weekend will trickle in to create added excitement on a Wednesday card. That nearly happened this week as Santa Anita had a $1.1 million carryover heading into Sunday. But after the first two legs were won by horses at 13-1 and 7-1, two favorites and two second choices won the final four races and the pick six paid $91,977.40.

But the lack of a pick-six carryover does not mean the race books at the Coast Casinos (the Orleans, Gold Coast, Barbary Coast, Suncoast, South Coast) will be hurting for players on Wednesday. A different carryover is the reason, and the excitement will carry over into Thursday, too.

During the Santa Anita meet, the Coasts have been hosting weekly handicapping contests for $5 on Wednesdays and $10 on Thursdays. Players make their selections on the first five races of that day's card. Coast puts up prize money of $1,000, $700, and $300 for first-, second- and third-place finishers on Wednesday and $1,200, $900, and $400 on Thursday, but the big money comes into play in the progressive jackpots for anyone who can go 5 for 5. Coast seeds the Wednesday pool with $1,000 and Thursday's with $1,500, and all entry fees get added to the jackpots. If no one hits it on a given week, it carries over to the following week. Well, no one has gone 5 for 5 to win either jackpot since March 1 and 2, and heading into the mid-week cards, the Wednesday carryover is $12,430 and Thursday's is $26,910.

Considering a modest number of entries, by the time the fees are added, Wednesday's pool should exceed $15,000 and Thursday's should surpass $30,000.

On top of all that cash, there's an added incentive that will surely make the entry box explode: since this is the last week of the meet, both pools have mandatory payouts, so a 5 for 5 might not be required. If no one sweeps the contest card, all those with four of five will split the pot.

There is a limit of 10 entries per person on Wednesday and a limit of 15 entries on Thursday.

* Another thing bringing out the local horse racing crowd on Wednesday is the opening of the Red Rock Casino on the far west side of town. The crown jewel of the Station Casinos empire, it was set to open to the public Tuesday evening, but the first full day of race-and-sport operations will be Wednesday. Red Rock will serve as the hub for the rest of the company's books (Palace Station, Boulder Station, Texas Station, Sunset Station, Green Valley Ranch, Fiesta Rancho, Fiesta Henderson, among others) and will join the other Station-branded properties in offering a $5,000 twin quinella wager on Wednesday. In addition, the Jumbo Race Jackpot promotion will link all the Station Casinos properties to award horseplayers with random jackpots ranging from $5,000 to $15,000.

Sports book notes

The LPGA held the Takefuji Classic at Las Vegas Country Club last Thursday through Saturday. Lorena Ochoa, who was the 8-1 co-second choice at the Las Vegas Hilton sports book right across from the course, won the 54-hole tournament with a record 19-under-par 197. In any other year, Seon Hwa Lee, who was a 30-1 longshot and carded a score of 16-under, could have pulled the upset, but Ochoa was in control from wire to wire.

* On the men's tour, Aaron Baddeley was a pre-tournament 125-1 longshot at the Hilton, but those juicy odds didn't help anyone after he won the PGA's Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head Island, S.C. Jeff Sherman, Hilton sports book supervisor and the top golf oddsmaker in town, reports that the Hilton didn't write a single ticket on Baddeley, so the book pocketed all the bets it did take. Baddeley held off Jim Furyk, the 10-1 second choice, by making a six-foot par putt on the final hole to shoot a 1-under 70 after starting the day tied with Furyk for the lead. Ernie Els, the 8-1 top choice and the only one of the Big Five to play the week after the Masters, rallied within two shots of the leaders on the front nine Sunday, but faltered on the back nine.

* Tim Sylvia upset Andrei Arlovski as a 7-2 underdog on the Ultimate Fighting Championship card from the Pond in Anaheim, Calif. The other seven UFC bouts were all won by the favorites, highlighted by Tito Ortiz winning a majority decision over Forrest Griffin as a -300 favorite.

* In out-of-the-ring news based on an in-the-ring incident, the Nevada State Athletic Commission last Thursday fined Roger Mayweather $200,000 and suspended his training license for a year for jumping into the ring during the IBF welterweight title fight between his nephew Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Zab Judah on April 8 at the Thomas & Mack Center. The incident sparked a melee in the ring. The fine was the second-highest in Nevada history, eclipsed only by the $3 million fine given to Mike Tyson in 1997 for biting Evander Holyfield's ear. The Commission released Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s $5 million share of the purse at the meeting, but still held Judah's $1 million share as it was still investigating his role in the brawl and the actions of his father and trainer, Yoel Judah. A decision was expected this week.