10/22/2008 11:00PM

Last-minute Breeders' Cup help


Even at this late date, there are still plenty of chances to get help with your handicapping on Saturday's nine Breeders' Cup races.

On Friday night, the "Track Talk" radio crew of Gordon Jones, Patrick McQuiggan, and John Kelly will host a seminar at Sam's Town on Boulder Highway at 6 p.m. They can also be heard Saturday morning on their show at 7:30 a.m. on KLAV AM-1230 in Vegas and online at samstownlv.com (on the race and sports book page).

Up in Reno, the Lucky's race book at the Grand Sierra will start Breeders' Cup Saturday early, too, with a 7:30 a.m. seminar with Steve Fierro of Today's Racing Digest and Lucky's marketing director Dan Shapiro.

Back on the south end of the state, Ralph Siraco will have a "Raceday Las Vegas" full of news and picks from 8:05-9 a.m. on KSHP AM-1400 and streamed live online at kshp.com. After the show, he'll host a 9 a.m. seminar at the Orleans with Rob Henie of the "West Coast Handicapping Report" in the Mardi Gras Ballroom, which will host an all-day Breeders' Cup party with big-screen TVs.

Most every race book in town will be packed for the races (as they battle for space with college football bettors) and offer promotions such as Breeders' Cup T-shirts, hats, or glasses with minimum bets of $20 or so, but the only other property I found with a free public party was the South Point, which not-so-coincidentally is owned by former Orleans owner Michael Gaughan, who has always gone out of his way to lure horseplayers to his properties on big race days like this.

As of this writing, the Wynn Las Vegas and Lucky's books were posting the most head-to-head matchups and Breeders' Cup props but more books are sure to follow as they fill with players looking for action beyond the parimutuel pools. Jerry's Nugget offers an exclusive head-to-head matchup parlay card and also has a $10 buy-in contest, with $500 in prize money.

The Station Casinos, which offer a daily $5,000 twin quinella jackpot and usually pump it up to $10,000 for big racing days, has gone even further with a $20,000 prize pool Saturday. The twin quinella races were to be announced in their books by Friday night.

* For those looking for my value plays (read: longshots), they can be found with the rest of the staff selections in Friday's and Saturday's editions and on my ViewFromVegas.com website. Hopefully my BC selections do better than my NFL picks have been doing in this space. I'm over 60 percent in the Leroy's Pro Challenge contest here in Vegas and just under that mark in the Hilton SuperContest, but below .500 here. I have five plays in the aforementioned contests, but I'll just offer up my two best bets here and try to get back over .500.

Cardinals +4 at Panthers

Part of the reason for the difference in records is that being in Vegas I can often grab an extra 1/2 or full point in the contests as those line are set Tuesday. I bet this game at +4 1/2, but as of this writing Thursday morning it's down to 4. Regardless, I'll take anything over a field goal in this matchup as the stats are pretty equal and cancel each other out, so I think this should be closer to pick-em. The Cardinals have the fourth-ranked offense in the NFC at 360 yards per game and should be able to move the ball even against the Panthers' defense, which is ranked No. 2 in the NFC, allowing 276 yards per game. The Cardinals' defense allows 220 yards per game, while the Panthers gain 324 per contest. I also like the matchups, even without receiver Anquan Boldin, and the Cardinals are coming in fresh off of their bye. The only thing holding me back from a much bigger wager is the fact that teams traveling West to East for early Sunday games (10 a.m. for the Arizona players) have been struggling this year, including the Cardinals with their only two losses coming during a two-week road trip vs. the Redskins and Jets.

Play: Cardinals for 2 units.

Giants +2 1/2 at Steelers

I'm in a similar quandary here. I bet this at Giants +3, but now it's +2 1/2, which is also the line in my contests. I know the majority of contest players are going to lay under the field goal and that's the "contest strategy" way to do it, but I'm sticking my head out here because I really feel the Giants are the right side and will win outright. I'm not convinced the Steelers are as good as everyone is making them out to be. One of their problems that they've been able to overcome is pass protection, as Ben Roethlisberger has been beaten and battered. To his credit, he keeps standing in there, but he's sure to get pressured from the Giants' pass rush and it could make for a long day, while I see the Giants' No. 2-ranked offense having success against the Steelers' No. 1 defense. With their Super Bowl run last year and this season (the game at Cleveland notwithstanding), the Giants have shown they can take their show on the road.

Play: Giants for 2 units.

Last week: 2-3, including a loss on a 2-unit wager, for a net loss of 2.4 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). Season Daily Racing Form record: 6-7-1, including 0-2 on 2-unit plays, for a net loss of 3.9 units.