10/19/2003 11:00PM

Las Vegan turns $750 into $17,656


Allan Rose of Las Vegas has proven himself to be a dangerous competitor in a short field.

In August 2002, Rose and his partner, Ben Coppola Jr. of Manahawkin, N.J., won the 63-player Summer Stakes handicapping tournament at Bally's. Last Thursday through Saturday, Rose blew away the competition in the Station Casinos Live Bankroll Challenge at Palace Station, which drew only 73 entries.

In this tourney, players paid a $250 entry fee and started the first day with a bankroll of $500. Each was required to make 10 bets (any combination of win, place, or show) at 10 percent of his bankroll ($50 per trip to the window). After the first day, Rose built his stash to $1,598, second only to Joe Hinson's $2,112.50.

Per the rules of the contest, players had to again bet 10 horses at 10 percent of their bankroll the second day, meaning Rose was playing $159 per race while Hinson was wagering $211 per race. While Hinson came back to the pack, Rose increased his bankroll to $1,913.30 and trailed only John Dobrzynski, who was at $2,125.

Rose was the star Saturday, building his bankroll to an impressive $4,031.45, nearly doubling the second-place finisher, James Leslie, who was at $2,019.70. Frank Grana was third at $1,628.

Because they were playing with real money, players got to keep their earnings, plus Rose picked up an additional $9,125 for finishing first, Leslie collected $3,650 for second, and Grana won $1,825 from the prize pool.

Along with the $3,000 Rose won for having the top score on Saturday (daily prize money was funded by the Palace Station) and the $1,500 he earned for having Thursday's second-highest score, Rose turned his initial $750 investment into $17,656.45.

The Hinson family - which accounted for six entries in all - didn't go away empty-handed. Valerie Hinson, who is a three-time winner of the World Championship of Horse Racing Handicapping events that ran from 1983-2000 at the Club Cal Neva Casino in Reno, built her bankroll to $1,078.80 and received fourth-place money of $912.50. Joe Hinson held on for ninth at $912, adding $182.50 for that placing as well as $3,000 for the high score on Thursday and $500 for the third-highest score on Saturday.

Tournament host Michael Lavine, Station Casinos vice president of race and sports Art Manteris, and Palace Station race and sports book director Micah Roberts were obviously disappointed with the low turnout, but they were optimistic a real-money event like this can grow. They were up against several obstacles in this inaugural attempt, not the least of which was being sandwiched between the Fall Classic at the Orleans a week earlier and the Pick the Ponies (and Breeders' Cup festivities) the week after, plus a relatively late announcement in August for out-of-towners to make travel arrangements at this busy time of the year.

"We'll take a look at everything and learn from our mistakes," Manteris said.

Sunset Station and Green Valley Ranch were mentioned as potential sites for future tournaments, though my suggestion would be to have a host property but also accept entries through any of the Station properties located throughout the Las Vegas valley. That could really cause entries to explode.

No room at the inn

The Las Vegas Hilton, which once upon a time struggled with getting entries, has had no such problems filling its field the last two years in its twice-a-year Pick the Ponies tournaments, held the Wednesday through Friday prior to the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup.

In fact, if you were still hoping to get in this week's tourney, you have to do what Red Sox and Cubs fans are used to doing: wait till next year. The field of 200 has been full since Oct. 6, which was the early-bird deadline in which entrants only had to pay a $400 per entry (instead of the posted $500 entry fee). The Hilton is making up the difference in the reduced entry fees by seeding the prize pool with $20,000 to bring the total purse to $100,000. First prize will be $38,000 with prizes paid down to 30th place. In addition, the Hilton pays out $15,000 in daily prizes ($5,000 per day) for the top scores.

Early football line moves

Despite a full slate of 49 college football games (six were off the board due to injuries) and 11 of the 14 NFL games available for wagering, early betting was light Sunday night at the Stardust for this coming weekend's action.

Only seven college lines moved when the average is usually around 16, and none moved by more than a point. The most significant was probably Michigan opening as a 7-point favorite over Purdue and being bet down to 6.

In the NFL, four pointspreads moved with bettors backing the Patriots from a 5- to a 5 1/ 2-point favorite over the Browns and three underdogs taking early action: the Bengals from +2 1/2 to +1 1/2 vs. the Seahawks, the Giants from +7 to +6 vs. the Vikings, and the Jaguars from +5 to +4 vs. the Texans.

The only total to get moved off the number was the under in the Rams-Steelers game, which opened at 47 1/2 and was bet down to 47. All six totals that have been bet in early wagering at the Stardust this season have all been on the winning side (the last four of which were unders).