08/08/2002 11:00PM

Value shopping available on BC futures

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LAS VEGAS - As Pool 2 of the Breeders' Cup Future Wager concludes Sunday at 4 p.m. Pacific time, bettors at the Park Place Entertainment properties (Caesars Palace, Bally's, Paris, Flamingo, Las Vegas Hilton, Reno Hilton, Caesars Tahoe, Flamingo Laughlin) are in a unique position. They can compare the odds in the parimutuel pool and the fixed odds posted by Park Place horse racing oddsmaker John Avello.

"I would bet it just like a horse race," Avello said. "I'd wait until two minutes to post and find the best value."

There are sure to be horses who have been bet down at the Park Place books who will have higher odds in the parimutuel pools as the deadline approaches. Likewise, there should be some horses who get pounded in the parimutuel pool that will be bargains in the fixed-odd futures. But Avello said you have to act fast.

"We have some very sharp bettors that will fire away once they see an opportunity," he said. "That's what they did in the first pool, so the window of opportunity is small."

Here's a list of the biggest discrepancies as of Thursday, comparing the Park Place odds and the morning line by Daily Racing Form national handicapper Mike Watchmaker (all odds are to $1):

Turf: Bandari 30 at Park Place/15 on the morning line, Denon 8/15, Sakhee 15/8, Super Quercus 15/30.

Mile: Bach 75/30, Del Mar Show 40/20, Irish Prize 10/30, Keltos 20/10, Sarafan 10/20, Volponi 35/20.

Filly and Mare Turf: Affluent 12/20, Aquarelliste 30/12, Astra 6/10, England's Legend 8/15, Golden Apples 12/20.

If the first number is higher, the value can be found at the fixed odds at Park Place. If the second number is higher (and stays that way until late in the betting Sunday), you could have an overlay in the parimutuel pool.

Early birds at Suncoast Invitational

Contrary to what I wrote in Wednesday's issue, the $20,000 early-bird contest at the Suncoast Invitational will be held Sunday. The Coast Casinos used to hold their early-bird contests on Wednesdays, but have now moved them to Sundays (which is when Coast held them several years ago).

The next tournament hosted by Coast Casinos will be the Championship at The Orleans, Oct. 10-12 with a free early-bird contest on Sunday, Oct. 13, for those who register by Sept. 18.

The next Suncoast Invitational is tentatively set for Jan. 15-19, with Championship at the Orleans contests in 2003 slated for both April 2-6 and Oct. 8-12. The Gold Coast will join the rotation with an Aug. 20-24 event.

Surf & Turf canceled

The Surf & Turf, a $2,500 buy-in tournament at the MGM Grand that used only Saratoga and Del Mar races, has been canceled because of a lack of entrants.

Scott Ghertner, corporate spokesman for the MGM-Mirage sports division, said the Surf & Turf, aka the Grand Racing Festival, which was originally supposed to take place in June, then moved to next Saturday and Sunday, could still be rescheduled.

The Surf & Turf had been a qualifier for the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship the past three years, but the MGM didn't sign up this year. Tournament players at the Suncoast were speculating Thursday that the increasing popularity of the DRF/ NTRA qualifiers across the country have been giving players (especially those outside Nevada) other options, and the incentive of qualifying for the national championships. If that is their goal, it also gives them a reason to bypass a non-qualifier, especially one with a $2,500 ante.

The cancellation comes on the heels of the Summer Stakes III tournament at Bally's drawing only 63 entrants (after seeking 200) and the Suncoast Invitational attracting just 207 (after seeking 300).

The calendar is a cause for concern, with three high-end tournaments held back to back to back.

"We really should get together as an industry," Avello said. "I plan to talk to Bob Gregorka at Coast and Lamarr Mitchell at the MGM to see what can be done with dates so we're not on top of each other."

Saturday contest at Imperial Palace

While the high-end tournaments might be struggling, the local betting contests continue to grow. The Imperial Palace enters the ring with a $10 buy-in Super Saturday contest.

Jay Kornegay, the Imperial's race and sports book director, said the contest will consist of races 6 through 8 at Saratoga and races 2 through 4 at Del Mar. Players are limited to three entries. One horse is picked in each race, and points are awarded as follows: win, 20 points plus the mutuel price (maximum $40); place, 10 points plus the mutuel price (maximum $20); and show, 5 points plus the mutuel price ($10 maximum).

First prize for the entrant accumulating the most points will be $300, with $200 for second and $100 for third. Prizes (meals, merchandise, etc.) will be awarded to the top 25 finishers. All entrants will also be eligible for a progressive jackpot that will start at $2,000. The IP hadn't settled on a jackpot threshold, but it is expected to be around 200 points.

Kornegay said if the contest is successful, it will run indefinitely and the prizes will increase.

"This is the only Saturday contest on the Strip, and we're hoping to attract both tourists and locals," said Kornegay, who pointed out that the IP is a rarity on the Strip with a separate race book and 230 seats with individual televisions. "We're hoping this can grow and grow into something much bigger and be around a long time."