NV Regulators Vote in Favor of County Fair Horse Races

Horse racing events at the White Pine County Fair in Ely and the Elko County Fair have received approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, even though there were some hiccups at both events last year.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) has voted unanimously in favor of authorizing horse racing events at county fairs in Elko and Ely this summer, after being briefed on some small issues that occurred at last year’s events.

The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) will now make a final decision on the matter during their next meeting on June 23.

The proposed races would take place in Ely from Aug. 19-21 and in Elko from Aug. 26 until Sept. 5. Both events feature thoroughbred and quarter horse racing, and have historically been popular and well-attended by locals. Parimutuel betting is allowed at both sites, and they typically run anywhere from six to 10 races per day.

Elko’s NGCB Enforcement Division Supervisor, Brian McIntosh, told fellow board members that he was in favor of the races, despite certain issues that arose at each fair last summer.

According to McIntosh, there were two incidents that took place during last year’s White Pine County races in Ely: a horse jumped the rail and left the track during one race, and a jockey was bucked off his horse in the starting gate before another. Both horses and their jockeys were unharmed.

In response to the incidents, McIntosh explained that the pre-race buck-off was unavoidable and that the jockey was wearing the proper protective equipment, which saved him from injury. As for the horse leaving the track, however, that issue has been resolved by raising the height of the guard rails and installing barriers so that the horses are unable to see past the track.

The Elko issues, on the other hand, stemmed from two horses that tested positive for illegal substances post-race. In one instance, a horse was treated with an anti-inflammatory medication that was not on the board’s approved list of drugs, and in the other, a horse had multiple medications in its system at once, which is also not allowed under NGC regulations.

As a result, the trainers of each horse were fined $750 apiece. McIntosh said these incidents were both examples of oversight and not malicious in nature.

Despite the hiccups, the NGCB voted quickly in favor of the races, and Chairman Brin Gibson called the events “wonderful” and a “holdover from the old West.”