If Bugsy Siegel could only
see Las Vegas today

Aug 31, 2004 12:54 AM

I’m Ed Golden and I approved this column:

Ah, Las Vegas.

Where you can go to the rest room without using your hands to flush the toilet or turn on the faucet.

Where vacationers can hock their watch if need be, because time is insignificant.

Where a guy can spend the day in the casino trying to get even for the money his wife is spending on a shopping spree.

Where you can get 25-1 or higher on a horse that won’t run for nine months--if it makes the race.

Where you can stay at a hotel that has 17 restaurants.

Where you can take a break from the glitz and glitter and get a culture fix by viewing the works of masters such as Monet, Picasso and Rodin.

Where it can cost you $1,000 for a dollar Coke.

Where it can cost $1 for a 50-cent out-of-town newspaper.

Where you can you sit in a sports book that offers multiple TV screens, but only one with audio.

Where you can get a free Racing Form at the hotel’s race book, simply because you’re a guest.

Where you can stand naked in front of your hotel room window, knowing no one can see in.

Where you can get on a plane in LA and in about an hour, before even finishing a magazine, you’re inundated with slot machines — at the Las Vegas airport!

Where the town’s disparity in gaming philosophy is humorously and succinctly captured by the gag the late Buddy Hackett used to tell, about the husband and wife arguing on an elevator on the way to their room after a bad night in the casino. "You lost $200 on the slot machines!" the husband bellowed. "That’s right," the wife retorted, "but you lost $3,000 playing blackjack!"

"Yeah," the husband shot back, "but I know how to gamble!"

Better yet is the tale that epitomizes a gambler’s mentality. Two friends are at the track an hour before the first race, and one asks the other to borrow $20.

"You can’t be broke already," comes the reply. "They haven’t run a race yet."

"That’s right," the friend says. "I’ve got money to bet. I need money to eat."

Only in Las Vegas, or, as Henny Youngman used to say, Lost Wages.

If Bugsy Siegel could see it now.

The homestretch

Corey Nakatani needed treatment Friday resulting from a jockeys’ room fight with fellow rider Isaias Enriquez. "They were going toe-to-toe and no one backed down," one insider said. Nakatani missed his first three mounts before returning to win three races. The pugnacious Nakatani sported a king-sized band aid under his left eye. Each rider was fined $200 by the stewards.

”¡ Add to News You Can Bet On: In the Aug. 3-9 editions of Gaming Today, a week before the Best Pal Stakes, I wrote: "(Bob) Baffert says of his 2-year-old sensation Roman Ruler, ”˜I plan to run him just once at Del Mar, in the Best Pal, and not in the Del Mar Futurity.’" After Roman Ruler won the Best Pal by seven and Baffert told post-race interviewers he would not run the son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus in the Futurity, they scattered to their laptops like they had major news.

”¡ Patrick Biancone is a colorful character and a fine trainer, but if he thinks Lion Heart or any other 3-year-old is going to be voted champion colt of 2004 over Smarty Jones, he must be smoking a hallucinatory brand of cigarettes.

”¡ And this item from the Aug. 18 Los Angeles Times: "U.S. sprinter Torri Edwards was ruled out of the 2004 Olympics, an arbitration panel upholding a two-year suspension imposed after she had tested positive for a banned stimulant. Edwards said she didn’t know the tablets contained the stimulant. The panel said she should have known and upheld the two-year ban." Patrick Valenzuela, are you listening?

”¡ No wonder the men’s basketball team didn’t get the gold in the Olympics. In international competition, NBA superstars aren’t put on the free throw line for phantom fouls, and the refs call walking after more than one step.

”¡.Why are the Phillies like Venus de Milo? No arms.