11/27/2002 12:00AM

Step right up for amazing 'Cheval' feats


Trainers are revered in horse racing and they should be.

But even they probably would be in awe of some of the training accomplishments by the horsemen that have worked on "Cheval." The show, which runs through Jan. 5 under the big top on Harmon Avenue between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo hotels, is an ode to horses and horse lovers.

The show is the brainchild of Gilles Ste-Croix, one of the creative forces behind Cirque du Soleil, so "Cheval" has a whimsical charm and never takes itself too seriously. More than 30 horses representing 15 different breeds perform feats that show their athleticism and intelligence.

In addition to dressage and carousel demonstrations, horses do a sidestep, walk backward, tap dance, run in unison, and do figure eights. The human performers are just as impressive, as they work in unison with the horses to perform somersaults and other tricks on horseback and leap from horse to horse. There is even an equine love story, with horses curtseying at the end, and a comedy routine with a horse that does everything to frustrate a man trying to mount him, including rolling over with the man on his back.

Tickets are priced at $59 and $49 for adults, with discounts for children and seniors. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, with 3 p.m. matinees on Sundays. A special 3 p.m. matinee will also be performed on Christmas Day. Thursday and Friday shows at 9:30 p.m. will be added starting on Dec. 26. Tickets and more information are available at chevaltheatre.com.

Quinella contest at Charlie's

Starting on Thursday, Arizona Charlie's West will hold the Ultimate Quinella Racing Contest on the first Thursday of every month.

Players will pay a $10 entry fee and pick two horses in each race (plus an alternate) at the Southern California track. First place will be worth $1,200, with $500 for second and $300 for third.

In addition, drawings will be held for $250 each after the third and sixth races.

Sports book notes

The Dallas Mavericks, off to a 13-0 start heading into Wednesday night's game at Detroit, were 10-3 against the spread. The Nets have also been a money-maker for bettors at 10-4, the same as their straight-up record. The Suns, despite having a 6-6 record in the standings, were only 2-10 against the spread. The Wizards weren't much better at 3-11.

* In the NHL, the Bruins are 15-6 against the spread at books that use a puck line (laying or giving half-a-goal instead of betting straight up). The Predators are 6-14, but that's better than their overall record of 2-14-4. The Islanders have the top over record at 13-8, while the Blackhawks are best with the under at 15-6-1.

* Tiger Woods jumped out to a three-stroke lead Tuesday in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii. Woods was the 4-7 favorite at the Palms He is also the 5-4 favorite to win the most money in the Skins Game on Saturday and Sunday at the Landmark Golf Club in Indian Wells, Calif. Phil Mickelson is the second choice at 2-1 with Fred Couples at 4-1 and Mark O'Meara at 9-2.

College contests wrap up

John Conte of Las Vegas won $20,000 in the College 101 handicapping contest at the Park Place Entertainment properties (Caesars Palace, Bally's, Paris, Flamingo, Las Vegas Hilton, Reno Hilton, Caesars Tahoe, and Flamingo Laughlin). Each contestant paid $50 per entry and selected 10 college games against the spread for 13 weeks. Conte ended up with 73 wins to edge out Charles Hipsack and Eric Spoto, also both of Las Vegas, who each had 72 wins and collected $6,250 each. Those weren't the only big winners in the contest. The top three in the standings after the seventh week of the contest won a pair of tickets for the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. They are Abe Demateo, Larry Stenger, and Erin Rynning.

In a smaller contest, College Knowledge at the Barley's Brewery and Casino in Henderson, "J. Keck" and a contestant going by the name of "Fatboy" 5 tied for the top spot with records of 113-82. To determine the winner of the $2,500 first-place prize, those two will compete in a sudden-death playoff using the MAC, SEC and Big 12 championship games on Dec. 7. The loser will get the $1,000 second-place prize. Each entry cost $25 with players allowed to buy four and get one free. Four of Fatboy 5's entries finished in the top 10 and his fifth finished a game out of the money in 11th.

NFL contests roll on

Professional handicapper Mike Lee and sports betting publisher Buzz Daly will compete Friday night in the Stardust Invitational and try to earn berths in the semifinals of the $10,000 single-elimination, winner-take-all tournament. Last week, Rudy Ruettiger went 3-4 to defeat Houston radio host Lance Zierlein, who went 1-6. However, it was the first week in which two contestants hit their best bet. Other semifinalists are local handicapper Andy Iskoe and national sports radio talk show host "Papa" Joe Chevalier.

"Hollywood Al" holds a one-game lead over "I Walk a Beat" in the Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest, which has a first-place prize of $168,600. Each contestant picks five NFL games a week against the spread. Hollywood Al has a record of 40-18-2 with pushes counting for half a point; I Walk a Beat has a record of 40-20.

Phillip Roland went 5-0 last week in the Gambler's Challenge at Station Casinos to take over first place with a 40-20 record. "Mbay Dice" is second at 39-21 with "MRO" in third at 38-22. Selections from the leaders in both these contests are available in the respective sports books by Friday afternoon.