Updated on 09/15/2011 2:36PM

Players answer call to charity


At the end of the classic holiday movie "It's a Wonderful Life," there's a touching scene in which all of George Bailey's friends come to his aid in his time of need.

A similar scene unfolded at the Las Vegas office of the Daily Racing Form this week. Just like in the movie, we should give you a flashback to fill you in on the rest of the story.

DRF's Las Vegas office has done food and toy drives in the past, but just internally. This year, the staff chose to do a toy drive for the Shade Tree Shelter for Homeless Women & Children, and the staff put a sign in the office asking for donations from customers who stop by to pick up their next day's Forms.

For the first week or so, very few presents were dropped off, and then "RaceDay Las Vegas" radio host Ralph Siraco saw the sign and said he would mention it on his show. Still, there's wasn't much of a response.

On Monday morning, office manager Teri Browning made an appearance on Siraco's show. Over the next 24 hours, there were still very few people who dropped off presents . . . and then the floodgates opened. Starting Tuesday morning and continuing through the afternoon, there was a steady stream of people dropping off toys in an unexpected outpouring of generosity.

Browning was amazed at the number of donations. She called Siraco to tell him the good news.

Siraco opened his Wednesday morning show by saying, "Teri called to thank me, but I told her it was you, the listeners, who should be thanked for your philanthropy."

Siraco then had a hard time composing himself, and it was obvious that he was getting emotional about the number of donations.

"After I was on the show and very few people came in, I was starting to wonder how many people actually listen to Ralph's show," Browning said with a smile, "but then I was blown away by the response."

Obviously, horse players needed time to get to the toy store, and a light racing day on Tuesday certainly helped.

If anyone else wants to give some joy to kids who are in bad situations through no fault of their own, toys - which should be in their original packages and not gift-wrapped - will be collected through noon on Friday, Dec. 21, at the DRF office at 6000 Eastern Ave., just south of Russell Road.

War of Words

Las Vegas plays host to a lot of competitions, mostly along the line of the Hawaiian Tropics Pageant or boxing matches . . . battles of beauty or the beasts.

But this weekend, in addition to the National Finals Rodeo wrapping up Sunday, The Venetian is hosting the 2001 World Scrabble Championships.

Preliminary rounds are Friday through Sunday in the hotel's convention area, with the two finalists waging a best-of-five war of words starting at 9 a.m. Monday in the Galileo room (and shown live on closed-circuit).

Suncoast early-bird deadline nears

The first horse handicapping tournament of 2002 is the Suncoast Invitational. The early-bird entry deadline is Wednesday (call 1-888-566-7223 or visit the Suncoast or Orleans to register) for the $1,000 buy-in event.

Early entrants participate in a free bonus tournament on Wednesday, Jan. 16, with the regular tourney taking place Jan. 17-19 at the casino on the west side of town.