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Horse racing continues, but most Nevada players left behind

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 also have 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 them.

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 even while the casino is dark. But that only works for existing customers, as opening an account requires a visit to the casino. (After this article’s publication, I was informed that the South Point’s app also is shutting down. No reason was given.)

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 tough races. 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 3/16-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’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. They see Modernist (6-1) as his biggest threat and Silver State picking up the show dough.

I’m using Ny Traffic (15-1) on top. He finished a close 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.

Mike Brunker’s horse racing column appears Fridays. He can be reached at mbrunker@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4656. Follow @mike_brunker on Twitter.

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