07/16/2001 12:00AM

Sports Betting

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For Las Vegas horseplayers, no meet is more anticipated than Del Mar. The challenge for race book managers is to get those players to their properties and to keep them from leaving. That's why there is an increase in handicapping contests this time of year, and as usual, the locals' casinos lead the way.

Arizona Charlie's West is adding a Friday Win & Quin contest during the Del Mar meet to its usual Wednesday offering. In Win & Quin players earn points when either of their two selections wins, plus bonus quinella points if their picks run 1-2. The Friday contest has a $2,000 guaranteed prize pool, and the Wednesday contest adds $800 to all entries.

On opening day, Sunset Station is adding a Wednesday contest to its regular Friday event. For a $10 entry fee, players get two contests for the price of one. The main contest is based on win mutuels, with the top contestant winning $1,000. All the entry fees go into a progressive jackpot, which is won by keeping all of one's horses in the money. Next week, the contest will be run Mondays and Fridays throughout the meet.

Boulder Station is starting its Breeders' Cup Blowout contest on Wednesday. Prizes include vouchers to place Cup bets and the grand prize is a trip for two to the World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park Oct. 27, including airfare from Las Vegas to New York, hotel in Manhattan, grandstand seating, all taxes and transfers and $500.

Players earn tickets for every $10 in horse racing wagers (plus two tickets for each bet cashed). Double tickets are earned on Mondays (which helps attract Del Mar players) and triple tickets on Tuesdays.

The drawing will be held on Oct. 8. Winners must claim their prize within three minutes or a new ticket will be drawn. Holders of the first 30 tickets drawn will receive $100 in Breeders' Cup wagers. The next four winners win $500 in B.C. wagers, the following two winning $1,000 in BC wagers. The 37th ticket drawn will win the grand prize.

That's a nice trip, but for those looking for a trip to Del Mar, Texas Station and Santa Fe Station are continuing similar drawings, in which the weekly prize is a trip to Del Mar on Sunday, Sept. 3. Drawings will be held each Friday through Aug. 24. Tickets are earned the same was as the Boulder Station contest.

Another continuing promotion is the contest at Terrible's Casino. The Wednesday contest, which will now use Del Mar races, offers its weekly winners a chance to play in the finals on Aug. 8 for a trip to the Breeders' Cup.

For horseplayers, it's a buyers market.

The British (Open bets) are coming

The British Open is a challenge for professional golfers, especially Americans who aren't used to the links-style courses and less-than-ideal playing conditions. It's also challenging for golf bettors.

But there is value to be found in the British Open odds at the Regent Las Vegas. Tiger Woods, whose odds have been around even-money in many tournaments this year, is 7-4 to successfully defend his title. Jeff Sherman, sports book supervisor at the Regent, opened Woods at 3-2 after the U.S. Open, but nudged him to 7-4 this past weekend.

"Since the U.S. Open, Tiger hasn't finished in the top 10," Sherman said, "We're trying to attract more money on him. It's not going to hurt us because his odds are so low."

Sherman said there's been a slight cooling in bettor confidence in Woods. "We still have a lot of tickets on him because people figure he's due to break out of his slump, and you're getting better than even-money on the best player in the world."

After three withdrawals, there are 46 golfers on the Regent's British Open future odds (plus the field at 8-1). Woods is the only player under 10-1. Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are co-second choices at 12-1, followed by David Duval and Vijay Singh at 15-1, and Davis Love III, Ernie Els, and Retief Goosen at 25-1.

Sherman said Goosen has attracted the most action. Goosen opened at 75-1 in the wake of his U.S. Open playoff victory, but he has been bet down to 25-1. "Bettors like him because he's won two of his last three tournaments and he's familiar with these links-style courses," Sherman said.

John Daly is also attracting a lot of action, bet down from 100-1 to 60-1 as of Monday. "Daly is playing well and having a good year by his standards," Sherman said. "Plus you always get money on Daly in the British Open."

Watch the "under" in baseball

The biggest news coming out of baseball's All-Star break was a report that the umpires were instructed to call more strikes. For baseball bettors, this was a sign to bet the under. A bigger strike zone logically means more strikeouts.

The under was 9-6 Thursday, 8-5-3 Friday, 8-7 Saturday, and 10-5 Sunday. Even with the higher takeout than on straight bets, a bettor putting $110 on each under since the All-Star break would be 35-23-2 with a profit of $970 as of Sunday.

Bettors looking to jump on the bandwagon had better do it quickly before oddsmakers adjust the lines downward or start making under bettors lay a higher price.