10/28/2002 1:00AM

Nevadans pound windows on Cup Day


Breeders' Cup weekend was big in every way in Nevada's race and sports books. Big crowds. Big handle. Big payoffs.

Casinos throughout the state had standing-room-only crowds in their race books and packed private parties. And those crowds stepped to the windows. Overall parimutuel handle statewide on the day was $7.48 million, an increase of $806,695 (or 12 percent) over last year's handle of $6.68 million on BC Day at Belmont Park, according to figures released by Las Vegas Dissemination Company. The total amount wagered on the eight Breeders' Cup races was $4.87 million, compared to last year's $4.24 million. Handle in Nevada on the full Arlington card was $5.218 million.

The above figures don't include wagers booked by casinos, such as future bets, proposition bets, head-to-head matchups, and house quinellas.

Preliminary wagering totals from all sources on the 11-race card at Arlington Park set an event record of $115,523,156, breaking the old mark of $108,603,040 set in 2000 at Churchill Downs.

Pollack picks the ponies

The BC weekend festivities actually began Wednesday with the three-day Pick the Ponies tournament at the Las Vegas Hilton. All 200 spots in the field were filled by the early-bird deadline at $400 per entry, and the Hilton pitched in another $20,000 to bring the purse to $100,000.

Steve Pollack, 38, of La Mesa, Calif., took home the winner's share of $38,000 with a consistent performance. He was fourth after Day 1 (close to winning the daily prize for being among the top three) and then scored the sixth-highest total on Thursday to move into the lead. Pollack, a professional horseplayer who used to appear on the San Diego-based "The Thoroughbred Hot Line Radio Show" with Felix Taverna and Ken Daniels, said the key horse to vault him into the lead was Knowmee, who won Bay Meadows' third race at 23-1.

"Ken Daniels, who won the Suncoast Invitational [in August], talked me into playing Knowmee," Pollack said.

Pollack said his strategy with a lead heading into Friday's final day was to play longshots early and short prices late. He had three horses that finished third at nice prices, and then clinched the tournament with a French import trained by Bobby Frankel, Gotdream ($10.80 to win), in the Hidden Light Stakes at Santa Anita.

"That's usually not my style," Pollack said of using a foreign horse. "I went with the trainer angle, and I liked that Gotdream had raced at a mile overseas while the other Frankel horse had only sprinted."

Bill Paulman was second and received $19,000 while Chuck Berger was third and collected $9,000.

Picking Volponi

Robert Reidenbach used Volponi to beat 305 other entries in the Super Saturday Handicapping Contest at the Imperial. For his $20 entry fee, Reidenbach took down the top prize of $14,490, which included a mandatory payout of a progressive prize that had carried over in the weeks leading up to the Breeders' Cup.

* In a special $10,000 Twin Quinella at the Station Casinos on Saturday, 41 people were alive after using Vindication and Kafwain in the Juvenile, but no one used Volponi with Medaglia D'Oro in the Classic. That caused the Twin Q to carry over until Sunday, when the jackpot grew to $14,198 and seven people hit it for $2,028 apiece.

Looking back at the futures

Volponi also ended up being a big winner for race books in Nevada that booked future book bets on the Classic. Books took in a lot of money on high-profile horses like War Emblem, Medaglia d'Oro, Came Home, Harlan's Holiday, and Evening Attire, so when Volponi - who was off most bettors' radar - pulled the upset, they kept a very high percentage of all bets.

But John Avello, the director of race and sports at Bally's and Paris Las Vegas and is the only oddsmaker with future books on all eight Breeders' Cup races, said the results weren't as good for him in the other races.

While calling the Volponi win "huge," Avello said he was a small loser on Azeri (bet from opening odds of 7-1 down to 9-5, with most of the money coming in at 4-1 and 5-1); a bigger loser on Storm Flag Flying (bet from 60-1 down to 5-8); a small loser - "pretty much close to a push," Avello said - on Domedriver (bet from 30-1 down to 10-1); a small loser on Orientate (bet from 20-1 down to 5-2); another loss on Vindication (bet from 10-1 to 5-2); and a small loss on High Chaparral (20-1 down to 7-5).

Starine, upset winner of the Filly and Mare Turf, was the only other winner for Avello this year. She opened and closed at 10-1, while bettors burned money on Banks Hill, Golden Apples, Islington, and Kazzia.

Angels take the World Series

Some bookmakers also took a hit as the Angels won the World Series, clinching with a 4-1 victory Sunday night in Anaheim.

The Angels were as high as 70-1 back in April after their 6-14 start. The Giants weren't much of a liability for the house as their odds were low all year long.

But it could have been worse. The biggest liability for Las Vegas bookmakers had been the Twins, who perennially draw a lot of future-book action and then started the year strong. They made it to the ALCS, then were ousted by the Angels.