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Horse racing continues, but most Nevada players left behind

20th March, 01:18

Las Vegas local Al Armer betts on different horse races at the CG Technology sportsbook at the Palms in Las Vegas, Thursday, July 25, 2019. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The irony of being a horseplayer in Nevada at a time when horse racing is one of the few continuing sports on the planet is hard to escape.

Most inhabitants of a city renowned for its plush star-studded sportsbooks are unable to play the ponies, even as bettors in many other states continue to do so. Sportsbooks at casinos across the state were shut down Wednesday by Gov. Steve Sisolak, and many of those appear to have also shut down the mobile apps they have long promoted for their convenience.

That means most players in Nevada can watch the races while sitting on our couches and wallets, but most of us cannot bet on the bobtail nag.

Both Stations Sports and Boyd Gaming's apps are not accepting wagers on horse racing while the parent casinos are closed. The only exception I've been able to find is South Point's Nevada Race Book app, which will continue to allow players to bet on horse races even while the casino is dark. But that only works for existing customers, as opening an account requires a visit to the casino.

William Hill's sports betting app also continues to operate, though it offers very limited betting on horse racing.

It's not clear why the apps were shut down, but it wasn't due to a Nevada Gaming Control Board regulation, said Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst with the agency.

"The mobile apps are allowed to continue to operate," he said via email. "If a property chooses to shut down their mobile betting applications that would be a decision made by the individual location."

The problems of inconvenienced horseplayers are a mere blip in this developing public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus. But it's also true that we could have used an occasional diversion during the fraught days to come.

And when you add the postponement of the Kentucky Derby until September, don't be surprised if the horseplayer in your life seems a bit out of sorts this spring.

#RJhorseracing featured races

Tumult or no, the #RJhandicappers aren't going to slack off in their mission to conquer the toughest races they can find. This week's quarry: The $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic, a 1⅛-mile turf face for older horses, and the $1 million Louisiana Derby, a 1 3/16ths-mile test for 3-year-olds, both at the Fair Grounds.

In the former, the handicapping crew is backing Channel Maker, who is 6-1 on the morning line, by the narrowest of margins over Dot Matrix (8-1) and Synchrony (the 3-1 morning line favorite).

I can't fault their thinking, but I'm going with Instilled Regard (5-1) in this wide-open betting affair based on the Chad Brown-trained runner's tactical speed. I've got Channel Maker second and Dot Matrix third.

In the Louisiana Derby, the crowd 'cappers are backing Enforceable, the 7-2 morning line favorite in a race that would normally be a key Kentucky Derby prep. They see Modernist (6-1) as his biggest threat and Silver State picking up the show dough.

I'm going against the grain again and using Ny Traffic (15-1) on top. He finished a close up third in the faster of the two divisions of the Risen Star Stakes last month and I'm not sure whey he isn't getting any respect from the linemaker. I'll use Chestertown ((15-1) to place and Major Fed (8-1) to show.