02/18/2002 12:00AM

Locals stick with value in Derby future betting


Churchill Downs's Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1 closed Sunday with a record handle of $577,889, but it might have been higher if a new regulation hadn't been in place in Nevada.

This year, race books in Nevada were allowed to keep their fixed-odds futures up during the Future Wager. Last year, they had to take their odds down for the duration of the parimutuel pool and Nevada contributed $104,046 of the then-record $510,815 handle to Pool 1, according to John Asher, Churchill Downs vice president for communications.

This past weekend, Nevada wagered only $46,209, ranking fourth as a state behind New York ($90,074), Kentucky ($68,338), and California ($58,323).

Nevada players were able to shop around, and what they often found was better value available with the fixed odds. Of the 23 individual betting interests in Pool 1, 20 of them had higher odds at either the Coast Resorts or Park Place Entertainment casinos.

Here are some of the odds from the Future Pool, followed by the odds at the Coast Resorts and Park Place books: Fonz's (41/45/50), Grey Beard (70/80/100), High Star (29/30/40), King's Consul (40/50/40), Political Attack (103/125/100), Request for Parole (58/65/70), Saratoga Blues (26/40/50), the filly Tempera (33/75/90), and U S S Tinosa (42/60/50). Most of the others, including most of the favorites, were in the same ballpark.

"Even with their 16 percent takeout, which is very admirable, they can only go so high on some of their longshots," said John Avello, director of race and sports at Bally's, where he sets the future book odds for Park Place. "Since we don't have a field bet, that allows my odds to be higher in most cases."

The biggest overlay in the Future Wager seemed to be Repent. Bally's and Coast Resorts have him at 5-1. Repent closed at 8-1 in the Future Wager, but certainly would have been bet lower if the pool had stayed opened after he won Sunday's Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds. Pool 1 closed at 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time and the race went off at 2:32 p.m.

Different kind of horsepower

Las Vegas bookmakers were happy with the results of Sunday's Daytona 500, but those bettors who had winning tickets on Ward Burton were even happier.

Burton was available around town as high as 30-1. Most books closed his odds between 15-1 to 20-1, but were more than happy to pay those tickets while keeping all the money wagered on fan favorites such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Sterling Marlin, and Tony Stewart, as well as on the rest of the 43-driver field.

Stewart was out of the race in the first two laps. Station Casinos had a head-to-head matchup with Stewart vs. Ward Burton, so that made those Burton backers happy right away.

There were a lot of restarts, with five caution flags in the final 61 laps of the race, and that gave no fewer than a dozen drivers a legitimate chance to win.

Dale Jarrett spun out while making a big move late in the race. Then Jeff Gordon looked to be in control with fewer than 10 laps left until he was clipped by Marlin on a restart. Then Marlin, after beating Burton to the yellow flag before the final caution of the day, could have been on the lead going into the final three laps, but he exited his car and tried to work on a damaged quarter panel during a red flag - a NASCAR no-no.

Burton inherited the lead after Marlin was penalized, and held off his challengers to take the checkered flag. It's too bad there wasn't exacta, trifecta or superfecta wagering on the race as Elliot Sadler was second at 35-1, Geoffrey Bodine was third at 35-1 as part of the mutuel field, and Las Vegan Kurt Busch was fourth as another member of the field.

The manufacturer prop, which pitted General Motors against Ford and Dodge, was a landslide. GM was the favorite at -130, but as NASCAR twice in the week before the race allowed the Ford and Dodge teams to trim their rear spoilers, the GM speed gap narrowed. Burton drove a Dodge, and six of the next seven cars to follow him across the finish line were either Fords or Dodges.

Duke just a lukewarm favorite

Maryland not only beat No. 1-ranked Duke on Sunday, but manhandled. With three weeks to go before the start of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the Terrapins' 87-73 victory served notice that the Blue Devils aren't invincible.

Kansas, which like Duke has a 23-2 record, moved into the top spot in both the AP writers' poll and the ESPN/USA Today's coaches poll. Maryland (21-3) is second in both polls and Duke is third.

Regardless, Duke is still the 9-5 favorite in future odds from Las Vegas Sports Consultants. Don't expect Duke's odds to rise because of this loss, but the result might cause bettors to be less reluctant in trying to beat the favorite.

Maryland is next on the futures list at 5-2, followed by Kansas (3-1), Kentucky (5-1), Oklahoma (6-1 and a Cinderella story after opening the season at 40-1), and Florida (7-1).