No code of silence for happy horseplayers!

Jun 25, 2002 9:08 AM

A VISITOR AT THE BAR! I was sipping something cool in a pub in Del Mar, Calif., when a visitor pulled up a stool nearby. He ordered a cold one and, while the bartender was pouring, he turned to me and said as follows: "You live here?"

I told him no, but I made sure it took me a while to respond. I didn’t want the intruder to think I was up for conversation.

It didn’t matter!

He continued: "Neither do I. But, I love to come here in the summer. I always take in a few days at the fair. But, when it folds its tent that’s always a good sign ”” the horses are about to return to Del Mar. The climate ”” it’s always sunny ”” the friendly residents and the dit . . . dots . . . dits make this an ideal summer retreat.

I inquired about the dit . . . dots . . . dits.

He told me it was his private term to describe horse racing. He went on to explain that he learned the term from a sweet lady co-worker on a weekly he worked for years ago in Philadelphia.

"We worked in a small office. The editor had antennae ears. To try and throw him off we spoke in code. She knew I loved to go to the races and when I left in the afternoon telling the editor I was on assignment she would whisper to me on the way out the door, ”˜is it the dit . . . dots . . . dits?’ There was no way she could say are you going to the races. The grouchy editor would have objected."

I finished my drink, thanked the stranger for his company and headed out the door. There was a little extra spring in my step as I thought about the dit . . . dots . . . dits opening at Del Mar on July 24.

FLASHES! Mohegan Sun rolled out the red carpet last week to celebrate the results of a $1 billion expansion, which included a new 1200-room, luxury hotel. Celebs by the number came. There was a tribute to legislation that formally recognized the Mohegan Tribe and restored the homeland to the Mohegan people. Two music legends Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin - appeared together for the first time in 30 years . . . Bet on it! When Nathan’s holds its annual hot dog eating contest on July 4, betting will be permitted on the Antigua-based web site. Who’s the fave? Last year’s winner, Takeru Kobayashi. He wolfed down 50 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. . . The Borgata, a $1 billion casino entertainment resort in Atlantic City, celebrated its topping off. The countdown has now started to its summer 2003 opening. Bill Boyd, chairman and chief executive officer of Boyd Gaming (BYD), was among the celebrants. "We are proud of the extraordinary efforts of our development team led by Bob Boughner, chief executive officer of The Borgata," Boyd said . . . Riviera Holding Corp. is the latest company tapping the junk bond market to re-finance existing debt. CFO Duane Krohn: "We had a very difficult time right after September 11, but we’ve had progressive increases in visitation since then." He said Riviera had to cut room rates to attract more reservations . . . Can Las Vegas support another high-end casino? There have been five major casinos built in the last five years, with the number of rooms increasing to 126,600 ”” a jump from 1997’s 105,300 tally. But one analyst, Jacques Cornet, doesn’t see competition as a problem for Steve Wynn’s new resort. "Wynn has a tremendous reputation and a strong following among casino goers. Also, the visitor count was up to 35.02 million last year from 30.5 million in 1997," Cornet said . . . Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino will revive plans to construct a $20 million building expansion after an Iowa Supreme Court decision that reduced the facility’s gambling taxes . . . Three cheers for Attorney General Mike Wilson. He let the Nevada Gaming Commission know that a study of 589 horse races showed there could be up to a four-minute variance between the time when bettors were prevented from placing a bet at the track and prevented from placing a bet in a Nevada sports book . . . Won going away would be the comment to describe the Nevada Gaming Commission’s unanimous approval to allow Native Alaskan Indians to share in the gaming revenue of a yet-to-open Ritz Carlton hotel at Lake Las Vegas. Under the agreement the group can accept gambling profits from its Nevada investment, but payments will be withheld if gaming regulators find even a single one of the 7,000 stockholders unsuitable. The unsuitable person would be required to sell or transfer his interest to other members before the money could be distributed . . . A touch of class! Leave it to Mike Mecca. He is issuing membership cards to the exclusive Midnight Oil. The cards offer preferred admission at Green Valley Ranch Station to Whiskey Sky and Whiskey Beach as well as all Midnight Oil Co. locations throughout the country . . . Before shuffling off to Del Mar, I had the good wisdom to break bread at Fellini’s, the Italian bistro on West Charleston Blvd. Their food is really good, but they’re also the only place I know of that offers escarole and beans, a real old fashioned Italian dish and one of my favorites.