05/10/2002 12:00AM

Secretariat immortalized on a chip

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With the death of Seattle Slew last week, a lot of racing fans have been reminiscing about the three Triple Crown winners in six years in the 1970's.

The best known of them all, Secretariat, has been honored with a series of commemorative casino chips at the Palms Casino Resort. A first set of chips, labeled "1973 Kentucky Derby winner" were distributed the week before the Derby; there are only 1,500 each of the $2.50 and $5 chips, 300 $25 chips and 100 $100 chips.

"I contacted [Secretariat owner] Penny Chenery and we were able to get the rights for a reasonable amount," said Palms poker manager Gene Trimble. "It worked out great because most people I talk to consider Secretariat the best horse of all time. The chips have been very popular and are already a hit with collectors."

A second set with the inscription "1973 Triple Crown winner" was released Friday morning, and Trimble said they were almost all sold. Chips reading "1973 Belmont winner" will be available May 24. There will only be 1,000 each of the $2.50 and $5 chips, 200 of the $25, and 100 of the $100.

Secretariat is the first athlete, human or equine, on a chip at the Palms, which has had chips for musicians such as Pink and Third Eye Blind. It's doubtful their legacies will last as long as Secretariat's.

Playoff betting surprises

Even though the NBA and NHL playoffs generally run to form, with the top teams advancing, there are always surprises along the way, especially in regard to the point spread.

The Lakers, who are the big favorite to win a third straight title, were 0-5 against the spread heading into Friday night's game at San Antonio. League-wide, underdogs were 19-12-2 against the spread in the first round and 24-17-2 overall.

The under held an even more impressive 21-9-4 edge in the first round, but the over has bounced back with a 5-4-1 edge in the second-round games through Thursday, especially in the high-flying series between the Kings and Mavericks. The Mavs won 110-102 to exceed the total of 210 at Sacramento last Monday, and the Kings returned the favor with a 125-119 win at Dallas on Thursday to blow away the total of 211. The first three games of the Nets-Hornets series also flew over the number by an average of 19 points a game.

The play: Nets-Hornets over the total of 184, with a slight lean toward the Nets +4.

NHL favorites are dominating

The over/unders were just as predictable in the first round of the NHL playoffs as the under was 28-19. The surprising thing is that there were no pushes in the first round even though 19 games had the very common total of 5.

A lot of bets have been refunded in the second-round games, as five of the first nine games with a total of 5 have landed on the number. Of the other 11 second-round games through Thursday, the over held a 7-4 advantage, including a 5-2 edge when the total was 4 1/2.

After the top seeds hosted the first two games of each series through last weekend (favorites were 6-2), the teams moved to the lower seeds' home ice. All four home teams won the games on Monday and Tuesday, but then all four road teams won Wednesday and Thursday. Through those games, favorites still held an 11-5 edge in the second round.

Sunday's marquee matchup has the Canadiens visiting the Hurricanes with the series tied 2-2. The Canadiens looked to be on the way to a commanding 3-1 series lead when they led 3-0 lead in the third period of Thursday's Game 4 only to see the Hurricanes tie the game in regulation and then win in overtime. Sunday's game is pivotal, and I expect Montreal goalie Jose Theodore to bounce back and get a

60-minute effort from his teammates as they regain control of the series.

Play: Canadiens as a +120 underdog (win $1.20 for every $1 wagered).

Odds say Devil Rays will keep losing

Heading into Friday's baseball action, the Devil Rays had lost 14 straight games, while the Red Sox had won nine straight and the Giants had won seven in a row.

Other extended winning streaks this season include the Mariners winning 11 straight and the Indians winning 10 in a row. The Tigers lost their first 11 games of the season, while the Brewers have also had a seven-game skid.

Some people would say that a team that has lost a lot of games in a row is "due," but it's more logical to think that they're likely to lose again. The linemakers agree: The Devil Rays have been underdogs in all 14 of their games of their streak. The Red Sox and Giants were favored in all of theirs.