11/05/2009 12:00AM

You can't make these bets anywhere but Las Vegas


Every year, some Las Vegas horseplayers make a trek to the Breeders' Cup. But even more prefer to stay here and enjoy the races from the comfort of their home race book. Yes, the crowds are big here, too, but the betting lines are shorter than at the track and the race books have added special wagers and promotions.

In fact, some bets can be made only in Nevada race books:

* The most popular are head-to-head matchups in which the horse you bet only has to finish ahead of the other listed horse in the matchup. As of Thursday, the Wynn Las Vegas and the network of Lucky's race books had both posted at least two matchups per race on Saturday's card.

In the Classic, Wynn opened Zenyatta -150 vs. Summer Bird +120 while Lucky's had it Zenyatta -160/Summer Bird +130. In the Turf, Lucky's went with Conduit -190 vs. Spanish Moon +160, while Wynn made Conduit -150 vs. the better finish of either Spanish Moon or Dar Re Mi +120. In the only other common props, Wynn made Lookin at Lucky -160 in the Juvenile vs. D' Funnybone +130, while Lucky's had Lookin at Lucky -140/D' Funnybone +110, and both had Zensational -125 vs. Gayego +105 in the Sprint. All odds are subject to change.

* The twin quinella wager is a Vegas mainstay in which bettors try to hit the quinella on two races by paying for the betting combinations before the first race takes place (no exchanges). Smaller books usually offer daily jackpots of $500 or $1,000 while Station Casinos has a daily $5,000 twin Q. Usually on big days Stations will increase the pot to $10,000, but for this Saturday's Breeders' Cup, Stations is offering a guaranteed $20,000 prize pool while Lucky's is offering $5,000. Those are good indicators that the books are prepared for large crowds and big handle.

* Jerry's Nugget, just north of downtown Las Vegas, is holding a small handicapping contest on Saturday's BC card with a $10 entry fee and a $500 prize pool. Jerry's Nugget also has a special head-to-head matchup parlay card devised by former Las Vegas bookmaker Mark Marion.

It should be a great time all over town. And now back to our regularly scheduled NFL picks for Sunday:

Dolphins +10.5 vs. Patriots

There are five double-digit underdogs this week but I'm only backing this one. The Dolphins are actually a better team than they were last year when they went 12-4, but are playing a much harder schedule. They always play the Patriots tough and this should be no different as they should be able to run the ball out of their traditional sets as well as the "wildcat." The Dolphins' defense has been a concern lately, allowing 98 points in three games, but that includes two wins over the Jets and a loss to the Saints (which they very well could have won). I expect they will do better against their division rival. When I gave out this play on the playbook.com podcast of handicapper Marc Lawrence, he brought up an interesting trend: Since the NFL started playing regular season games in London - like the Patriots did two weeks ago against Tampa Bay - those teams are 1-3 straight up in their next game and 0-3-1 against the spread.

PLAY: Dolphins for 1 unit.

Texans +9 vs. Colts

I jumped in front of the Colts Express last week and lived to tell about it with the 49ers covering. I will do it again this week as the Texans - even though they're planning to go with a running back by committee - have a better offense than the 49ers, which will help them trade scores in case Peyton Manning & Co. get back on track. The key, as usual, when I go against the Colts is their soft run defense. I just hope the Texans don't abandon the run without a feature back because they can have plenty of success sending out fresh runners all game long. The Texans also beat the 49ers at home, just like the Colts did, and the argument can be made that they dominated them more, yet I'm getting more than a touchdown here.

PLAY: Texans for 1 unit.

Titans +4 vs. 49ers

The 49ers are getting a lot of ink this week, and since I have been following all their games lately, that's why I'm confident this is the game to go against them again. The Titans finally got in the win column last week with Vince Young returning to the starting quarterback position. A key injury to San Francisco cornerback Nate Clements should certainly be a help to Young and his receivers. I trust Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher to make adjustments to the run defense to keep San Francisco running back Frank Gore from doing what Maurice Jones-Drew did last week. Other than MJD's long runs, the Titans played a near-perfect game.

PLAY: Titans for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-1 for a net profit of 0.9 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1 unit). Season record: 12-14, including 1-1 on 2-unit plays, for a net loss of 3.4 units.