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One of Las Vegas’ spring traditions is the Kentucky Derby seminar.

Every year, horseplayers flock to the race books to listen to expert handicappers break down the race along with the other Derby Day races.

It’s a fun time and an educational experience. But the coronavirus’ impact on the Derby also impacted the casinos’ planning. With the move from May to September for the Run for the Roses, virtually every property opted not to hold a seminar this year. There was simply too much uncertainty to do one.

But one casino will keep the tradition alive. The Rampart Casino in Summerlin will hold its Derby seminar from 6-7 p.m. this Friday with noted Southern California handicapper Bob Ike joining Race and Sports Manager Duane Colucci in the Rampart’s Cascade Lounge.

“It’s always a good time,” Colucci said. “Bob is the consummate professional and the horseplayers love hearing his thoughts. This is our third year with Bob and we’re thrilled he will be able to join us.”

Because of state protocols regarding COVID-19, the seminar is limited to the first 50 who show up. Admission, which is free, is first come, first served. Social distancing policies will be in effect and all attendees must wear a face covering.

“Obviously we’d love to have more seats but we have to be perceptive of the state’s policies,” Colucci said. We’ll open the doors at 5:30 so if you plan to join us, I recommend you get there early.”

Colucci said the Rampart considered not doing the seminar. But he convinced his bosses that the Derby, even if not run on its traditional first Saturday in May, is still a big deal.

“We were going back and forth for a while whether or not to do it,” he said. “But it’s been so successful, we didn’t want to scrap it.”

Those who attend will be eligible for a drawing for free slot play in the casino. If you plan to bet the Derby at the Rampart, you’ll receive a T-shirt for placing a minimum $10 bet on the race. The Rampart will be booking both the Derby and Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, but no other races on the Churchill Downs card either day. The Rampart will pay track prices for win, place and show on both races but will cap all exotics bets. Check the rules which will be posted in the race and sportsbook for details.

“We ask everyone who shows up Saturday to be patient,” Colucci said. “Remember, we still require everyone to social distance themselves and wear a mask when on the property. If you plan to spend the day with us, I suggest you get here early.”

As for the race itself, Colucci said Tiz the Law appears to be very tough to beat, despite having to start from the outside in post No. 17. But depending on how the track condition is, others may have a chance to pull the upset and defeat the Belmont Stakes winner in what will be the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

“I think running the race in September in May changes the entire dynamic of the Derby,” he said. “These horses have run in more race like the Haskell and the Travers.

“Tiz the Law was ultra impressive in winning the Travers. He’s on his game.  He’s got a win at the distance and that’s pretty important. “

With Art Collector opting out, Colucci said there’s one other horse he’s keeping his eye on.

“Thousand Words looked really good winning his last race and you can never overlook a Bob Baffert horse,” he said.

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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