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Kentucky Derby bettors get some good news from Nevada gaming board

Updated April 30, 2021 - 10:44 am

Nevada horseplayers received good news at the 11th hour, with the state Gaming Control Board granting racebooks the ability to take bets on more races from Churchill Downs, not just the Kentucky Oaks on Friday and the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

In a notice to licensees Wednesday afternoon, board Chairman J. Brin Gibson granted approval for licensed racebooks to use the nationally televised broadcasts on the NBC and the NBC Sports Network to determine the winners and payouts on six graded stakes races on Friday and seven on Saturday, with one caveat.

The races “must be shown live and in their entirety” in order for the betting to occur. If it is not, then all wagers on that race must be refunded to patrons and no other sources may be used to determine winners or payouts for the race.”

A commercial break after the horses cross the finish line – a frequent practice in commercial horse racing telecasts – would not violate that requirement if the results were posted afterward, a spokesman for the gaming board said.

The good news is that while Nevada horseplayers still will be limited in their wagering options, they at least will have a broader menu to choose from than last year.

And it’s possible the news could get better. I was told late Thursday that the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association and Churchill Downs Inc. were in discussions about a deal that would end the 18-month contract dispute that has kept Nevadans and visitors from wagering on races from Churchill Downs and the other tracks owned or controlled by the company.

If a resolution does not come through, though, know this: Local racebooks may handle the additional races in different ways, which might factor in your decision on where to play.

The South Point, Rampart Casino and all Station Casinos, for instance, are planning to offer win, place and show wagers at full track odds on all of the available Churchill Downs races, including daily doubles, exactas, trifectas and pick 3s where appropriate. But house rules will apply to all wagers. That means two-horse wagers will have a maximum payout of 150-1 and three-horse wagers will be capped 500-1.

Station racebooks also will offer a $10,000 twin quinella on Friday and $20,000 twin Q on Saturday.

The Circa sportsbook, which ordinarily doesn’t offer wagering on horse racing, will offer a different betting experience, with win betting only on the Derby, but at fixed odds. So if you jump in early and get a horse at 4-1 that eventually goes off at 5-2, you’ll still collect $10. It also will offer as many as 10 head-to-head matchups between entrants in the race, said Jeffrey Benson, sports book and operations manager.

Boyd Gaming, MGM Resorts and the Westgate did not respond to requests for details on their wagering menus by deadline.

By now, I almost can hear you screaming, “Enough already about where to bet. Whodaya like?”

The Oaks is a tough race, with little daylight between the main contenders. So I’ll use long shot Pass the Champagne, 15-1 on the morning line to try to set up a potentially lucrative Oaks-Derby double. (You’ll remember that I am planning on driving to Arizona if the dispute is not settled in order to have a full wagering menu at my disposal.)

In the Derby, my selection is Rock Your World, the 5-1 morning line second choice, to upset the 5-2 favorite Essential Quality (Sorry, Mattress Mack!).

In exactas, trifectas and superfectas (remember, I’m in Arizona), I’ll mix in logical contenders Hot Rod Charlie, Known Agenda and Highly Motivated with the top two.

I’ll also include a few bombs, particularly in 10-cent superfectas. They will include Midnight Bourbon, Mandaloun, O Bezos and a horse I guarantee you no one else touting — Helium.

Contact Mike Brunker mbrunker@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4656. Follow @mike_brunker on Twitter.