Kentucky Derby Betting

Here is my beginner’s guide to betting the Kentucky Derby.  I hope you find it helpful.

Handicapping Strategies:

Horses, Jockeys and Trainers – There are other important factors like the type of track, distance of the race and weather, but handicapping any horse race starts with three key elements – horses, jockeys and trainers.  Knowing the ponies is essential to picking winners at a consistent rate over the long haul.  When betting the Kentucky Derby, it’s important to circle horses that performed well in key prep races like the Florida Derby.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my hard-earned money going down on a horse that hasn’t proven it can win.

While the horses get all the glory, we can’t fail to acknowledge the significance of those getting the mount.  Jockeys like Kent Desormeaux and Calvin Borel have done very well at the Kentucky Derby.  Desormeaux has ridden three Derby winners (Real Quiet 1998, Fusaichi Pegasus 2000, Big Brown 2008) and Borel has also ridden three Derby horses to victory (Street Sense 2007, Mine That Bird 2009, Super Saver 2010). It’s hard not to like the horse Borel mounts with the way he has ridden at the Derby in recent years.

Over the years, it has been a smart move to wager on Derby horses that have been trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Nick Zito, Bob Baffert and Carl Nafzger. Todd Pletcher has been one of the best trainers in the industry for a number of years now and we can add his name to the list after Super Saver got him his first Kentucky Derby win in 2010. Doesn’t it makes sense to put your money on a horse that has been trained by a proven winner?

Bet the Favorite – Telling you to “bet the favorite” sounds like profanity coming out of my mouth, but favorites win roughly a third of all horse races. Still, I wouldn’t recommend betting the horse with the shortest odds blindly, especially if your research leads you to believe that horse isn’t head and shoulders better than the field. It can be a good idea to group the morning line favorite in your different wagers, however.

Most popular wagers:

Straight Bets – Win, place and show are three popular wagering choices that many sports bettors will place on the Kentucky Derby. Betting a horse to “win” is as simple as it sounds. You are picking which horse you think will win the race and you will get paid if that horse crosses the finish line first. Betting a horse to “place” means you will win your wager if that horse comes in first or second. Betting a horse to “show” means you will collect if that horse finishes first, second, or third. You can also place an “across the board” wager on a horse, which means you are betting that horse to win, place and show. If the horse wins, you collect on all three bets. If the horse comes in second, you collect for the place and show payouts. If the horse comes in third, you only collect the show payout.

Exotic Bets – The most popular exotic bets are the “exacta” and “trifecta”. The exacta requires you to pick the top two finishing horses in the exact order they finish to get paid. As you might have guessed, the trifecta requires you to pick the top three horses in the exact finishing order. I recommend you “box” your exacta and trifecta wagers to improve your chances of winning. By doing so, you will win your wager if the horses you selected finish in any order.