A crowd of 160,000 will attend the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The next best place to be for the first of three Triple Crown races is Las Vegas.
Every race book in town will be putting its best foot forward for the Derby. Many books will be offering souvenir items with a minimum of bets totaling $20.
For those who like to spread out their Daily Racing Forms among friends, there will be two free ballroom parties at the South Point and The Orleans. Food and drink coupons will be handed out with minimum wagers.
And leading up to the Derby, all kinds of handicapping help will be offered in free seminars.
The first seminar is at 6 p.m. Thursday at Palace Station. Ralph Siraco of “Race Day Las Vegas,” Richie Saber of Gaming Today and Paul Truitt of Palace Station will host.
Three free Derby seminars will take place May 3, the day the Kentucky Oaks is run.
A 4 p.m. seminar at Sam’s Town will feature Jon Lindo of the Lindo Report; Mike Willman, the Santa Anita Park publicity director; and Siraco.
At 6 p.m. at South Point, John Kelly of eog.com, Patrick McGuiggan of the “Track Talk” radio show and Southern California clocker Toby Turrell will share their knowledge.
Also at 6 p.m. at Sunset Station, I will join Jerry Jacovitz of Jerry J’s Power Page to offer opinions.
Multiple handicapping contests also will be on the calendar. Pick the Ponies will be at the LVH from Wednesday through May 3. Entries, priced at $500 each, will be cut off at 200.
On May 3, four Boyd Gaming properties — Gold Coast, The Orleans, Sam’s Town and Suncoast — will host a qualifier for the 2014 Horseplayer World Series. Entry fee is $100, with a $300 live money bankroll format.
On May 5, Treasure Island will host a qualifier for the 2014 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship. These are valuable seats because a player cannot buy his way into the NHC; he must qualify.
For those who think they know who will finish first and second in the Kentucky Derby, make sure to play a $20,000 twin quinella at Station Casinos and Fiesta race books on May 4. The Derby will be paired with another to-be-determined race at Churchill Downs for the wager.
Finally, a lot of novice bettors will be dabbling on horse racing next week. You can support the sport by being helpful to them at the race book. Our sport needs new blood. Thus, if you can help even one person to enjoy horse racing, I tip my cap.
Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.