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The Kentucky Derby will be run on the first Saturday in May. Nope, it will be run on the first Saturday in September with no fans.

To makes things even crazier, the race books in Nevada are without a contract with Churchill Downs and bettors could be making wagers with limits on payoffs. There is still a slim chance that the Nevada books will get an 11th-hour deal done and allow bettors to wager on the entire Derby card Saturday.

But if not, here is what is scheduled to happen. The Nevada race books will only be accepting wagers on Friday’s Kentucky Oaks and Saturday’s Kentucky Derby with Win, Place and Show wagers and exacta and quinella wagers. There will be limits on payoffs since the books will be responsible for winners as the wagers will not be part of the pari-mutuel pools.

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Booking horses is nothing new for the race books in Nevada. Before all the simulcast wagering, that was how it was done and very successful. Back in the 1970’s and 80’s, the books had supervisors on the front lines logging wagers and who was making them. Tickets were hand-written back then and sharp bettors would try and sneak bets in by moving from one wagering window to another. Supervisors had to really be alert, especially on big days like the Kentucky Derby.

Now, with computers keeping track of all wagers and limits put on house wagers in those computers, it becomes much easier for the books to track what’s going on.

For those of us that like to make all the exotic wagers, we can only hope that somehow a contract will be made. If not, we can always get into the car and drive to Arizona and find a simulcast spot.

Derby bet strategy

Let’s take a look at some possible wagers we can make here in Las Vegas or at a simulcast operation if we decide to take a drive.

Tiz the Law will be around even money on the morning line and will probably be sent off at less than that if it’s a fast track. He deserves to be a short price and it will take a lot to beat him. But in a big field, a lot can go wrong. Tiz the Law drew post 17 in an 18-horse field and was 3-5 in the morning line.

The last time a horse went off at odds-on in the Kentucky Derby was back in 1992 when Arazi was sent off at 90 cents on the dollar and finished eighth.

Tiz the Law has won six of his seven races, with his only loss coming at Churchill Downs on a sloppy track. The most important factor for him to win this 1 1/4-mile race is that he has already won at the distance in a classy time. He was impressive in winning the Travers last month at Saratoga, covering the 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.4.

Can any of the other runners in this race beat him on the square? I really don’t think so.

We do have a trainer by the name of Bob Baffert who has won the Kentucky Derby five times with two Triple Crown winners. He sends out two runners with Thousand Words and Authentic who held on to win the Haskell in his last start in late July at Monmouth Park.

I really love the way Baffert has Authentic set up with some sneaky works. He also gets the great John Velasquez riding and he is no stranger in the Kentucky Derby winners’ circle. Authentic could be overlooked in the wagering and is a must use.

 The one issue for Authentic was he drew the far outside No. 18 post. He may have to use some energy early to overcome his spot in the starting gate.

I also will be using Max Player, who has moved into the Steve Asmussen barn. Max Player has hit the board in all five of his races and will find a fast pace to make a late run. Honor A.P. should get the distance and big race jockey Mike Smith adds to his chances. Ny Traffic ran very game when just coming up short behind Authentic in the Haskell.

The bottom line is that Tiz the Law is the real deal and can sit behind the speed and make his move whenever he wants. I will use him on top with Authentic and Honor A.P. second in the exacta. If trifectas are available, we will use Max Player and Ny Traffic in the third spot.

Good luck and tread lightly on a muddy or sloppy track. The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 80s and a 10% chance of rain.

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