08/28/2003 11:00PM

Key to Internet contest: Lock in early at big odds

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John Avello, who heads the race and sports operations of Bally's Las Vegas and its adjoining megaresort Paris Las Vegas, last year introduced an Internet fantasy-stable contest for horseplayers. Named the Breeders' Cup Future Book Challenge, it's back again this year. The free contest, at ballysraceandsport.com, began on Aug. 14 and runs through Oct. 20.

In the Challenge, players must pick three runners for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races, which are to be run Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.

There's more to the contest than just picking the Breeders' Cup winners, however. Odds are based on the future book prices at Bally's, and they are locked in - as if you were betting them with real money - at the time of selection. You don't have to make selections for all eight races at the same time, but when you do put together a stable for each race, all three picks must be made together.

As Breeders' Cup hopefuls compete in the summer and fall stakes leading to the championships, future book odds will change. The idea is to choose horses who get to the Breeders' Cup and have a chance to win, but to get them early enough so that the odds are high.

Avello recently released odds for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies, and now has odds posted on all eight races.

With the Breeders' Cup future bet available throughout the country this weekend, you can compare the bet's parimutuel odds with the fixed-odds version in Nevada.

Here are Avello's opening and current (through Thursday) odds on some of the top contenders for each race:

Juvenile - Chapel Royal, who was to run in Saturday's Hopeful, opened the favorite at 7-1 and holds at that price. Value Play started at 10-1 and has dropped to 7-1. Limehouse, also entered in the Hopeful, opened at 12-1 and has risen to 15-1. Birdstone, another Hopeful runner, was 18-1 and now is 15-1. Pomeroy is 20-1 and Cuvee is 15-1 after opening at 25-1.

Juvenile Fillies - Whoopi Cat opened as the favorite at 8-1 and is still at that price, while Tizdubai was driven down from an opening of 20-1 to current favoritism at 7-1. Ashado started and stays at 10-1; ditto for Unbridled Beauty at 18-1. Victory U. S. A., entered to run in Saturday's Del Mar Debutante, opened at 30-1 and is now at 12-1.

Distaff - Azeri opened at 7-2 and now is at 4-5. Bird Town has dropped from 50-1 to 15-1, Sightseek from 20-1 to 4-1, and Wild Spirit from 25-1 to 8-1.

Sprint - Aldebaran opened at 10-1 and now is at 5-1. Captain Squire has gone from 15-1 to 10-1. Gygistar, who opened at 35-1, is down to 15-1, and Shake You Down has dropped from 30-1 to 4-1.

Mile - Dubai Destination opened at 25-1 and now is at 10-1. Special Ring has been bet down from 20-1 to 5-1. Peace Rules started at 15-1 and now is down to 12-1. Congaree (if you want to take a chance) opened at 15-1 and is still there. Defending champion Domedriver opened at 35-1 and is down to 15-1.

Turf - Storming Home opened at 10-1 and now is at 5-1. Defending champ High Chaparral opened at 10-1 and now is at 6-1. Sulamani, put up when Storming Home was disqualified in the Arlington Million, has been bet down to 5-1 from his opening odds of 15-1. Johar opened at 25-1 and now is down to 10-1.

Filly and Mare Turf - Heat Haze went from 35-1 to 6-1 after she won the Beverly D., while Dublino stayed at 10-1. Voodoo Dancer opened at 20-1 now is at 8-1. Tates Creek also is at 8-1 after opening at 12-1.

Classic - Empire Maker opened at 50-1 and has been driven down to 3-1 favoritism. Stablemate Medaglia d'Oro opened at 10-1 and now is at 8-1. Mineshaft opened at 40-1 and now down to 5-1. Defending champ Volponi started at 30-1 and has dropped to 15-1, and Travers winner Ten Most Wanted has dropped from 75-1 to 8-1.

Ralph Siraco is turf editor for the Las Vegas Sun and host of the Race Day Las Vegas radio show.