07/20/2006 12:00AM

Sure thing: King Palm to place


Records are made to be broken, and we see it done all the time.

In baseball, when a record is being threatened, no matter how obscure, it seems everyone from the P.R. guy down to the peanut vendor is aware of it. In horse racing, besides track records for running times, the only other records we usually hear about are lifetime earnings and career wins. Those are few and far between.

So, when a Vladimir Cerin-trained 5-year-old horse named King Palm - who has finished second an incredible seven times in a row without winning his maiden, including five times as the favorite - runs at Del Mar on Monday, no one will know for sure if he's a record-holder, or trying to tie or break a record.

The Jockey Club, Equibase, the Guinness Book of World Records, and Ripley's Believe It or Not don't keep records on consecutive losses by horses. One horse with a known case of seconditis was Jacques Who, who had six straight runner-up finishes before finally winning his maiden at Belmont Park in 1973, and had another streak of five later in his career. He had 24 seconds from 117 career starts.

King Palm is owned by the Maloof brothers, who own the NBA's Sacramento Kings and the Palms hotel (hence his name) here in Las Vegas. The brothers, who run a virtual empire of entertainment companies, are Joe and Gavin, who oversee the sports division, led by the Kings and the WNBA defending champion Sacramento Monarchs; George, who runs the day-to-day operations of the Palms; and Phil, who heads the entertainment division of Maloof Music and Maloof Motion Pictures, which will release "Feast" at the Palms on Sept. 12 with a nationwide release on Sept. 22. All of the Maloofs are listed as executive producers, as are Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

Phil also is the point man in their horse racing interests, and he says the Maloof boys have always had racing in their blood. Their father, George Sr., was a state racing commissioner in their native state of New Mexico, and the boys would travel with him to all the tracks on the circuit.

"We always wanted to get involved in racing, and that happened when we met Vladimir through a friend," Phil Maloof said. "We had one horse picked out and he didn't pass his physical, so then we bought King Palm."

Purchased as a 2-year-old in 2003 for $150,000, King Palm debuted on Feb. 16, 2004, at Santa Anita only to finish sixth. His next start was a month later, and he finished third. He then finished second on April 9, 2004, at Santa Anita and his streak started. He followed that with a second on May 27, 2004, at Hollywood, then Cerin gave him a year off and he finished second on May 29, 2005.

It didn't matter if King Palm was firing back fresh or taking a break or at Santa Anita or Hollywood or running at six furlongs, 6 1/2 furlongs, a mile, or 1 1/16 miles. After another nearly nine-month break, he was second on Feb. 18 of this year, as well as on April 12, April 29, and May 19.

"The way he was going, if he was in a field of 10 Secretariats he would finish second, and if he was in a field of 10 donkeys he would finish second," Maloof said.

In King Palm's last race, Cerin added blinkers and King Palm set the early pace, got passed by Double Galore (who would go on to run in the Belmont), fought back again, but lost by just a length. Cerin said he has a maiden special weight picked out for King Palm on Monday at Del Mar and hopes that's where the string finally ends.

"I just hope he ends the streak in the winner's circle and not up the track," Cerin said. "He ran well with blinkers last time, more focused."

As for the record?

"If he has the record and we can get him in the Guinness Book of World Records, that would be great," Maloof said. "But if he doesn't have the record yet, we don't want it. We don't like to lose at anything, whether it's with the Kings or with our other businesses. We want him to win now!"

Online gaming conference canceled

The Bodog.com Marketing Conference, which was to be held Sunday through Tuesday at Wynn Las Vegas, has been canceled. One reason for the cancellation was the arrest Sunday of BetOnSports.com CEO David Carruthers, according to a press release issued Wednesday by Bodog founder and CEO Calvin Ayre.

The release said that many "who planned to attend the conference have expressed a high level of concern over the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. government's recent actions against one of the companies in our industry. It is in light of these concerns that we have decided to postpone the Bodog.com Marketing Conference to a later date and at an international location. This decision ensures that the focus of the conference will not be lost."

The third annual conference was to focus on helping Internet operators improve their business models and marketing. The press release stated that next Tuesday's conference-ending party, scheduled for the Tao nightclub at the Venetian, would still take place.

Since the House of Represent-ative's vote to ban Internet gambling, speculation has increased about how that would affect online gambling companies, and the heat was turned up when Carruthers was arrested and BetOnSports.com suspended operations and was taken off the London Stock Exchange.

Ayre stated in a release earlier this week: "At this point, the detention of a high-profile senior executive in the online gaming industry may appear to some as ominous for the online gambling industry, but that is not the case at all. The charges are specific to the person and company at issue, and have nothing to do with Bodog.com's current or previous business practices. Bodog.com, a privately held, Costa Rican-based company, has an innovative and different business model that allows us to run our entertainment enterprise within the laws set out in each of the jurisdictions where we conduct our business."