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Look into the Future

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A new year is just around the corner, so let's take a peek at some sports futures!

The bookmakers' goal throughout the valley is to have important numbers posted for the crowds that pour into Sin City for January's NFL Playoffs and the early-February Super Bowl.

Odds on the 2009 Super Bowl are expected around mid-to-late January, as the 2007 postseason kicks into high gear.

AUTO RACING

The Daytona 500 kicks off a new NASCAR season and also is the circuit's most prestigious event.

The Las Vegas Hilton's late December co-favorites for than Feb. 17 race are formers champions Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., all at 5/1; Tony Stewart at 7/1 is the only other driver in single digits.

Kevin Harvick, the 2007 winner, is 15/1, along with Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.

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The Las Vegas Busch Brothers, Kurt and Kyle, are 12/1 and 20/1 respectively.

Johnson and Gordon are 9/2 co-favorites to capture the 2008 Sprint Cup Series Championship.

Stewart and Kensenth are 8/1 and everyone else is double digits or higher.

Earnhardt Jr. and Edwards are 10/1 and both Busches and Danny Hamlin are 12/1.

Odds are listed on 21 drivers with a field wager of 20/1.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

UCLA, a member of the Final Four the last two years, is stirring memories of the golden years of John Wooden as the Bruins now are 5/1 Hilton favorites to bag the 2008 NCAA Tournament April 7 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

North Carolina and Memphis check in at 7/1 and everyone else is 12/1 (Kansas and Duke) or higher.

Georgetown is 15/1, Tennessee 20/1 and USC and Louisville 25/1.

COLLEGE HOCKEY

Miami of Ohio has emerged as 9/2 choice to capture the 2008 National Hockey Championship in Denver on April 12.

North Dakota and Denver are 6/1 second picks, followed by Michigan at 8/1.

Colorado College and New Hampshire are 10/1, with Boston College 12/1 and Michigan State and Notre Dame 15/1.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

With Santa's annual global trek just behind us and ringing bells ahead, it's difficult to imagine the Boys of Summer frolicking along the baselines in warm temperatures under blue skies.

It won't be long until the diamond dudes are back in the groove, however.

One sign that summer is on its way was the mid-December appearance of Hilton 2008 Regular Season Home Run futues.

Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder opened at 5/1. All other players went up at double digits or higher.

Albert Pujols was posted at 12/1, Adam Dunn at 15/1 and Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano at 20/1.

Boston remains a 5/1 favorite to win the 2008 World Series, followed by the New York Yankees at 6/1 and Cleveland, Detroit and the Los Angeles Angels at 9/1.

HORSE RACING

All Thoroughbred horses celebrate their birthdays on Jan. 1, so spring's Triple Crown hopefuls turn from two to three on Tuesday.

Now is the time when shopping around for Kentucky Derby futures really can pay off. Futures at the Wynn and Las Vegas Hilton, two of just a few bet shops to already have posted Run for the Roses numbers, have sharply different figures in their futures book.

Futures prices drop as the winter racing season heats up and important prep races pop up at Santa Anita in California and tracks throughout the Southeast.

Top contenders are lost to injuries every winter and spring.

Both the Wynn and Hilton horse parlors have Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion and Champagne Stakes victor War Pass as the early favorite: 15/1 at Wynn, which has numbers rannging as high as 500/1 on hundreds of horses, and 20/1 at the Hilton, which has odds on just 100 candidates at numbers no higher than 250/1.

Here are a few leading candidates; the first number is from Wynn, the second from the Hilton:

Tale of Ekati 35/1 and 75/1
Pyro, 20/1 and 25/1
Kodiak Kowboy, 50/1 and 100/1
Blackberry Road, 50/1 and 100/1
Dixie's Chatter, 45/1 and 75/1
Majestic Warrior, 20/1 and 50/1
Colonel John, 20/1 and 50/1
Into Mischief, 25/1 and 75/1
Slew's Tiznow, 50/1 and 75/1.

Trainer Nick Zito has indicated the highly-touted War Pass won't run againn until February.

Last year at this time, Nobiz Like Showbiz was the big early Churchill Downs favorite, but he failed to win any Triple Crown races.

  
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