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Big names get action

May 22, 2001 11:14 AM

Does anybody bet the Indianapolis 500?

"It does better than an average NASCAR race," says Caesars Palace race and sports book director Chuck Esposito. "We’ve had odds up for over a week and we’ve had some early action."

The 85th running of the Indianapolis 500 will get under way Sunday morning at 9 a.m. PDT on ABC-TV.

So which drivers are bettors throwing early money on?

"Definitely the big names," Esposito says. "They like Michael Andretti, Arie Luyendyk, and there’s been a little action on Al Unser Jr. But there’s been action, especially on Andretti, who’s coming back to Indy after a five-year absence."

At Caesars, Andretti opened 15-1, but now is 12-1. Other changes since the opening line have Luyendyk, who opened at 25-1, now at 22-1. Unser Jr., who opened 35-1, is now 30-1.

The favorite is Greg Ray at 4-1. Gil De Ferran, Scott Sharp and the field all are 5-1. Tony Stewart and Mark Dismore both are 6-1. Leading series point leader Sam Hornish Jr. (136 points) is 20-1. So far this year he has made $317,000.

Defending champion Juan Montoya left the Indy Racing Series for Formula One in the past year and will not defend his title.

According to Bert Osborne, Gold Coast sports book director, betting on the Indy 500 has been light there.

"There are some that do bet it," he says. "That’s mostly the NASCAR bettors. It’s a fixture. But this race is so minute for the house. They are betting the big names. That’s what I’m thinking."

Gold Coast odds on Andretti have paralleled Caesars’, opening at 15-1 and now 12-1.