08/18/2006 12:00AM

What's in a name? And other odds and ends


Here are some random thoughts as we roll through the desert dogs days.

With the announcement that Michael Gaughan will repurchase the South Coast, one of the most influential and successful casino operators in the business gets back to running a hotel. Boyd Gaming, which bought the Coast properties from Gaughan, will hold onto all of the other Coast Casinos, while Gaughan, who founded Coast Casinos, takes the reins of his latest creation.

In a recent newspaper interview, Gaughan displayed his humor when asked about having to rename of the South Coast (because Boyd Gaming now owns the Coast Casinos brand). Gaughan said South Point could be a good name for the south Strip complex, since, as he put it, "I would only have to change three letters on the sign."

I remember when Gaughan built the Orleans not more than a mile from his Gold Coast Hotel Casino. Industry insiders thought he had lost his mind. They said he would cannibalize his own customer base with the two properties so close together. Today, not more than a decade later, the Orleans has taken its place as one of the most successful casino properties in Las Vegas, after more than a few expansions, including an arena, while the Gold Coast keeps on rolling along.

The same proximity issue affects the Fiesta Henderson, which has a newly expanded race and sports book. Owned by Station Casinos, the Fiesta Henderson is located just a freeway exit away from sister property Sunset Station. With a new 137-seat race and sports book and a new sports book bar, the Fiesta Henderson will certainly attract area horseplayers, but it is located in a growing part of the valley and, like with the Orleans-Gold Coast situation, Fiesta Henderson and Sunset Station will coexist just fine.

While Fiesta will open the valley's newest race and sports book, it is rumored that another Station outlet - Green Valley Ranch - will knock the socks off race and sports players with its new layout. The state-of-the-art video wall at Green Valley Ranch will mirror the one in Station's Red Rock race and sports book. The new Green Valley Ranch book is set to open in early October.

Brad Bryant, race and sports book director at the yet-to-be-opened Planet Hollywood (formerly the Aladdin) on the Strip, has been checking out the Red Rock's new look as well.

Shame on those Standardbred horseplayers here in Las Vegas. They have been complaining that there is no harness handicapping contest for them, and when Bally's decided to placate them earlier this month, only nine entered the contest.

At least some high rollers followed John Avello down the street from his gig at Bally's to Wynn Las Vegas. His $2,000-entry handicapping contest on Saratoga and Del Mar last weekend snagged 52 players. Anyone get comped?

Monday will be Del Mar Day at the Suncoast in Summerlin. Race manager Tom Timko will host the party in the ballroom, replete with a seminar, drawings, and a $5,000 handicapping contest based on the first five races at the beach that day.

Ralph Siraco is turf editor for the Las Vegas Sun and host of the Race Day Las Vegas radio show.