The United States is one of my favourite countries in the world but some of their laws are just off the wall. In the so-called land of the free, you can walk into a supermarket and buy a high-powered assault rifle yet in most states, it's illegal to simply place a bet on a horse off-track or to set up a book of any kind.
A strange state of affairs indeed, although America is certainly not the only country in the world to heavily restrict betting. I found that out the hard way last week while wandering around the Algarve trying to find a place to watch the Epsom Derby.
For me, the Derby is like the Grand National and it's one of those races which I've bet on since I was a child. For sentimental reasons, I like to place my Derby bets the old-fashioned way in cash with a bookmaker - so I was reluctant to take out the iPhone to do my grubby business, as the Portuguese might see it.
But in the end, I'd no choice and through the wonders of technology, I was able to bet on and watch the race all in the palm of my hand. A Meath man, who was also desperate to see the Derby, even put old rivalries aside and bought me a pint when I let him join in - despite the fact I was wearing a Dublin jersey. I joked that he was a typical culchie, buying people pints when they are as cheap as €1.50, but he seemed like a nice bloke and he appreciated the opportunity to watch what turned out to be a cracking race.
Where to next for Golden Horn remains to be seen; he has an entry for next month's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot which could be interesting, although the Coral Eclipse, for which he's priced 5/4 antepost, is the obvious next step.
Speaking of Ascot, the Royal meeting kicks off on Tuesday and it's worth noting that punters have fared well in recent years. For example in Group Races at Royal Ascot, the favourite/joint favourite has won 74 races from 202 (since 2003) and had you stuck €10 on each, you'd be €435 better off today.
Last year, there were 10 winners from 20 bets and seven of those were at decent, odds-against prices. If you are going to oppose the jolly in the big races next week, make sure you've a good reason to do so.
In an attempt to build up my Ascot betting pot, a chance is taken on Waady in this afternoon's Winner Bet & Watch Scurry Stakes (2.55 Sandown). John Gosden's colt has a couple of Group One entries for the future so it's clear that connections have bigger things in mind for the three-year-old. Following a disappointing debut, he was fitted with a hood and proceeded to win his next three races, including a decent handicap over this course and distance in April - his second C&D win in total.
More recently, he was fourth in a 6f Listed contest at Newbury but it was one of those races which simply didn't go his way and he was forced to switch two out. At 5/1 he's worth another chance back over 5f today although the presence of David Barron's Likely (9/4) will ensure he won't have it all his own way.
Words like "must win" and "crucial" are bandied around quite a lot in football but they really do apply this evening as Ireland take on Scotland in Group D. Technically, the boys in green could draw but the reality is that we have to win to have any real hope of qualifying for Euro 2016.
The problem is though, it's hard to see where the Irish goals will come from and the team managed by Gordon Strachan are in good form. I really hope I'm wrong but backing the DRAW could be the way to go at 13/5.
On the racing front, the Madeleine Cup EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes should be a straight-forward penalty-kick for MUHADATHAT, which is expected to go off in the region of 4/6.
The Mark Johnston-trained filly hit 1/20 in-running on her recent debut at Ripon but was picked off on the line by Holy Grail. She showed plenty of promise though, and looks sure to come on for the run.