07/03/2003 11:00PM

Stardust book avoids an Avalanche hit


LAS VEGAS - The temperature here surpassed 100 degrees again Thursday, so ice hockey probably wasn't on too many bettors' minds.

That suited the Stardust's race and sports book manager, Bob Scucci, and his staff just fine, as they got word about some major NHL news out of Denver. It was around 10 a.m. and the Colorado Avalanche were sitting at 7-1 in the Stardust's 2004 Stanley Cup futures. Once Scucci heard that the Avs had signed free agents Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne, the 'Dust lowered the Avalanche to 7-2.

"That's a case where we got the news before the bettors," Scucci said. "We didn't take a bet at the higher odds."

With the addition of those two standouts (both of whom were former teammates with the Mighty Ducks and pitched themselves as a package deal to give them the best chance to win a title), the Avalanche are now the second choice in the betting behind the Detroit Red Wings, who are 3-1.

The Red Wings also got stronger Thursday when they added defenseman Derian Hatcher from the Dallas Stars. The defending champion New Jersey Devils are next at 6-1, followed by the Stars and Ottawa Senators at 10-1.

Blasts from the past

The Stardust is celebrating its 45th anniversary on Tuesday. Scucci said there are no special festivities involving the sports book, which is surprising, since one of the things the Stardust is most famous for is opening the first sports book on the Strip in 1976 and to this day is known as the originator of the Las Vegas Line.

Wayne Newton, Don Rickles, Tim Conway, and Harvey Korman are among the invited celebrity guests. One famous (or infamous) old-timer who won't be allowed to attend is Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who is in Nevada's "List of Excluded Persons," or as it's most commonly called, the Black Book.

Rosenthal was the CEO of four Las Vegas hotels, including the Stardust, in the 1960's and 1970's (when he helped build the sports book). He was accused of running the hotels for his organized crime associates and directing a skimming operation. His story, including the car-bombing he survived in 1982 in the Stardust parking lot, was told in the 1995 movie "Casino," with Robert De Niro in the starring role.

Rosenthal, who lives in Florida, turned 74 last month and still provide sports picks on his website, www.frankrosenthal.com. Check it out for more stories of old Vegas that probably won't be part of the Stardust's celebration.

IP takes over Travers futures

Last year, the Coast Casinos had future book odds on the Midsummer Derby, the Travers. This year, with oddsmaker Frank Minervini having left for The Borgata in Atlantic City, Coast isn't offering Travers odds. The Imperial Palace, however, has filled the void.

Coming as a surprise to no one, Empire Maker is the favorite at 2-1. Funny Cide might be an overlay as the second choice at 7-2, and he is followed on the board by Ten Most Wanted at 8-1 and Toccet at 15-1. In all, 14 horses are listed.

If that's not far enough in the future for you, many Nevada race books have Breeders' Cup Classic futures. Only the Park Place Entertainment properties (Caesars Palace, Bally's, Paris, Flamingo, Las Vegas Hilton, Reno Hilton, Caesars Tahoe, Flamingo Laughlin), however, have futures for the Distaff, Sprint, Turf, Mile, and Filly and Mare Turf. Oddsmaker John Avello says he will add the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies as the 2-year-old stakes slated for the Saratoga and Del Mar meets get closer.

You can check the odds at www.ballysraceandsports.com.

The first Breeders' Cup parimutuel Future Wager pool takes place starting July 25.

Pirates getting extreme makeover

An era comes to a close this weekend with the final performances of the "Pirate Battle" at the Treasure Island hotel-casino.

The free family-friendly show, which has attracted an estimated 4.5 million people a year, will close down after Sunday's 9 p.m. performance. The show will get a $2 million makeover and will be unveiled at the resort's 10-year anniversary celebration in October under the title of "Sirens of TI." TI is the trendy nickname for Treasure Island, in the Vegas tradition of the Desert Inn being called the DI.

Instead of the pirates battling the British, as was the case in the old show, the revamped (vamp being the operative word) version will have a ship of scantily clad female pirates dueling with their male counterparts in what is being called by the casino as a "sensual modern interpretation" of the battle of Buccaneer Bay.

Um, okay.

Speaking of scantily clad females, Hooters is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

The company's actual anniversary isn't until Oct. 4, but Hooters is holding its official bash this Tuesday and Wednesday at the Paris Las Vegas resort. The main party is Tuesday, with the seventh annual Hooters International Swimsuit Contest on Wednesday.

Smaller celebrations are also planned at every Hooters nationwide on the 20th of each month. There are two Hooters restaurants in the Las Vegas valley: on West Sahara Avenue and at the Sunset Station hotel-casino in Henderson.