10/18/2001 11:00PM

Seminars the order of Championships Day

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It's been said many times before that if you can't attend a major sporting event in person, the next best place to watch it is in Las Vegas. Besides the legal wagering, Las Vegas rolls out the red carpet treatment like nowhere else.

Three casinos are making sure their horseplayers will have an edge going into Saturday's World Thoroughbred Championships. Sam's Town, the Excalibur, and the Reno Hilton are each holding a handicapping seminar on Friday night in their race and sports book.

Sam's Town has sponsored the popular "Professor" Gordon Jones for years. His radio show Track Talk is on Wednesday through Sunday on KLAV-1230 at 7:30 a.m. Jones will host the Sam's Town seminar, which begins at 6 p.m. Also appearing will be Track Talk regulars Joanne Jones (Gordon's daughter), Patrick McQuiggan, and Bruce Finkelstein.

"It's going to be a madhouse this weekend," said Norm Kelley, race and sports book manager at Sam's Town. "The two big ones for the race books in town are the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup. With college football and the Breeders' Cup at the same time Saturday, this place will be packed."

Kelley said a big video screen will be set up to show the Breeders' Cup races. And Jones's daily selections will be on the board in the back of the room at Sam's Town.

The Excalibur will sponsor a return visit from Jerry Jacovitz of Jerry J's Power Page. The Power Page is a handicapping sheet available in many race books around town. The Jacovitz seminar will begin at 5 p.m., following the last race from Santa Anita.

"We had Jerry here last Breeders' Cup and also for the Travers," said Jeff Stoneback, race and sports book director for the Excalibur. "He puts on a great seminar and draws a lot of people. Last year he mentioned to use Spain in the Distaff. I did and caught a 50-1 shot."

The Excalibur will serve refreshments during the seminar.

Giving the seminar at the Reno Hilton are Lauren Stich of Daily Racing Form and Jon Lindo of Today's Racing Digest.

Steve Fierro, the handicapper for the Reno Hilton, said the seminar will run from 6-8 p.m. and that the casino will give away 20 $100 Breeders' Cup wagers.

"I predict we'll have 800-1,000 in our Superbook on Breeders' Cup Day," Fierro said.

To allow for additional seating, banks of slot machines will temporarily be moved. This may be the first time a casino will be moving slot machines to make way for horseplayers.

Richard Eng is turf editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and host of the Race Day Las Vegas Wrap-Up Show.