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Horse racing events in rural Nevada stay on track, dates approved

Updated June 5, 2024 - 12:53 pm

It’s a sure sign that summer is near when the Nevada Gaming Control Board fields requests for horse racing dates in rural Nevada.

The board on Wednesday recommended approval for race dates in Ely Aug. 16-18 for Agricultural District No. 13 in White Pine County, and in Elko Aug. 23-Sept. 2 for the Elko County Fair Board.

Both requests are expected to be considered for final approval by the Nevada Gaming Commission on June 20.

Annual county fair horse racing is one of the most important rural tourism events for White Pine and Elko counties. The Gaming Control Board is responsible for monitoring wagering for races and oversight of safety of horses and jockeys and the testing of animals for performance-enhancing drugs.

Both Ely and Elko had lower gaming revenue than the previous year because thunderstorms prevented races from being run one day in both locations.

Gaming Control Board agent Andrew Olsen told board members the Ely races generated an estimated $90,000 for 18 races in 2023 compared with $105,000 for 22 races a year earlier.

“Thankfully, there were no jockey injuries in 2023,” Olsen told the board. “However, there was one horse that suffered a traumatic head injury in the saddle and paddock prior to race one. The horse was examined by the state veterinarian, sedated, and humanely euthanized after being transported to the barn area. Ely ran a clean race week last year with no Regulation 30 violation investigations being required.”

Regulation 30 stipulates the rules and conditions in which racing is to be conducted, as well as the permitted medications and medicating dosages for horses, he said.

The Elko races also were affected by a thunderstorm.

Olsen said Elko generated $267,000 in revenue for 50 races in 2023 compared with $273,000 for 49 races a year earlier.

Last year one jockey was injured during the races, he said.

“Jockey Joe Sainz was ejected by his horse on the first turn out of the track after completing the fourth race” and required medical treatment, Olsen said.

No horses were injured during the 2023 races, he said. But one horse tested positive for the “forbidden substance clenbuterol, which is not permitted at any level of dosage in the state of Nevada,” Olsen said. “The trainer of the horse was fined and his portion of the winnings from the purse were redistributed to the other winners from the same race.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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