06/20/2006 11:00PM

Stardust show signing off for good


An era comes to an end next week when "The Stardust Line" radio show goes off the air after 25 years.

"The Stardust Line" started in April 1981 with the team of Lee Pete, Jim Brown (yes, that Jim Brown) and Donnie Bader on KDWN AM-720. Hosts over the years have included Arne Lang, David Malinsky, Roxy Roxborough, Stephen Nover, and the current team of John Kelly, Dave Cokin, and Ron Frazier. Just about every name in the sports-betting field has appeared either as a guest on the show or a contestant in the Stardust Invitational handicapping contests.

"The Stardust Line" aired Monday through Friday mornings and provided listeners with the opening lines for the day's action. The night shows on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays - with KDWN's 50,000-watt signal reaching nine Western states - previewed and recapped the weekend action. The Sunday-night shows were especially popular in the fall, as they gave the opening lines to thousands of listeners for the following week's football action.

The Stardust is being torn down later this year to be replaced by the $4 billion Echelon Place in 2010. The sports book will remain open until the property closes, but with KDWN being sold and undergoing a format change, it was time to pull the plug on the show.

On Sunday night, listeners are being invited to come down to the Stardust sports book for free food and refreshments to send off the show in style. Past hosts and guests are expected to show up to pay their respects. The final show will be next Friday morning, June 30, at 8:30 a.m. with a similar send-off.

"The Stardust Line" pretty much created the genre of sports-betting radio here in Vegas, and while there are lots of new shows around to carry the torch, they'll be hard-pressed to shine as bright or as long.

Leroy's already filling void

The Stardust Invitational tournament, with its $10,000 winner-take-all prize, won't be renewed either, but Leroy's has already stepped up with its own invitational football handicapping tournament.

Last year, the Leroy's Money Talks contest, so named because handicappers put up $2,500 of their own money to enter as opposed to the free invitation-only Stardust competition, had a field of 16 and a total purse of $50,000 with Leroy's kicking in the extra 10 grand. This year, the entry fee is being upped to $5,000 apiece, with John Kelly and Leroy's marketing director, Jimmy Vaccaro, saying more than 30 people have applied to be in the field. The winner will receive the $80,000 prize pool, with Leroy's giving the runner-up a $20,000 consolation prize.

Leroy's has another promotion that is free for its customers. Every two or three weeks for the rest of the baseball season, according to Leroy's odds manager, Bob Smith, the names of 10 Leroy's Sports Club members will be drawn at random and one of them will get a trip to Mesa, Ariz., for a weekend that includes two field-box tickets to a Diamondbacks game and a round of golf.

The first drawing was this past Tuesday for this Saturday's Diamondbacks-Angels game. Smith said the next drawing will held July 11 for that weekend's series, when the Brewers visit the Diamondbacks, and plans call for the promotion to continue into the fall with Arizona Cardinals tickets and possible packages for San Diego Chargers tickets.

Sports book notes

The Heat wrapped up the NBA finals Tuesday night with a 95-92 victory over the Mavericks in Dallas to win four games to two after dropping the first two games. Before the series started, the Heat were +140 underdogs and the odds were increased to in excess of 4-1 after they lost the first two games.

As far as future books were concerned, when odds first went up last summer, the Heat were between 4-1 and 5-1 at most sports books. Their season hit rock bottom on Feb. 9, when they lost 112-76 at Dallas, shortly after which they were offered at 10-1 at the Golden Nugget. But the Heat, led by coach Pat Riley and stars Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal, righted the ship to win the title.

* Several books had liability on the Carolina Hurricanes to win the Stanley Cup, as they started the NHL season at around 50-1 at most sports books and as high as 80-1 at the Rampart. Even as recently as January, they were available at 40-1 or 50-1, and when teams returned from the Olympics in late February, the Hurricanes were leading the Eastern Conference and still a juicy 8-1.

* Caesars Palace has an intriguing boxing card on Saturday night as part of HBO's "Boxing After Dark" series. The card is titled "Undefeated . . . but not for long," as it features undefeated fighters squaring off in two bouts. Calvin Brock is a -360 favorite over Timor Ibragimov in a heavyweight bout that could help set up a title bout for Brock in the not-so-distant future. Joel Julio is a -360 favorite over Carlos Quintana in a junior welterweight bout.

* The Nextel Cup circuit goes from the speedways to a road course this Sunday with the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Tony Stewart is the 3-1 favorite at Station Casinos, with fellow road-course aficionado Jeff Gordon is the 4-1 second choice with Scott Pruett the only other driver at single-digit odds at 8-1.

* Wimbledon starts Monday with Las Vegas Sports Consultants listing Roger Federer as the prohibitive 2-5 favorite in the men's bracket, with a huge drop-off to Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt at 8-1 and Mario Ancic at 12-1. A live longshot is James Blake at 20-1. In the women's bracket, Maria Sharapova is the 5-2 favorite, with Justine Henin-Hardenne at 4-1, Kim Clijsters at 5-1, and Venus Williams and Nicole Vaidisova both at 6-1.