Kentucky Derby Betting Guide
Along with the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, the Kentucky Derby is one of the three pillars of horse racing’s ‘Triple Crown’ accolade. A Louisville institution dating back to 1875, it is the most readily named of prestigious events in North America, even by those who are otherwise novices when it comes to thoroughbred horses.
The prize money at stake has also increased drastically over the years, even with inflation accounted for. This cannot fail to motivate jockeys into racing with uncompromising aggression and determination, and this combines well with the fast-paced track to maximize the entertainment value!
However, it is not just the jockeys that can earn big from the Kentucky Derby, and as a huge event that comes around just once a year, people will bet big. In turn, some will win big, and in knowing this, anyone betting on the Derby will be eager to seek out the best sites for betting on Triple Crown events.
Best Betting sites for Kentucky Derby
Figuring out the ‘best’ sites for betting on a horse race is all down to opinion. Some will go after the longest odds for a realistic contender, while others will seek out the most generous free bets and matched bonuses.
Certain bookmakers already have a rich history of providing Kentucky Derby odds for bettors on both sides of the Atlantic. With Canada, Australia and the UK/EU having a relatively rich history of legalized betting, users in these territories are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to taking advantage of great offers related to horse racing.
By contrast, due to the country’s historically tighter legislation in gaming, the United States remains virgin territory for most well-known sportsbooks out there. However, some of the most notable transatlantic horse racing bookmakers have already made their mark in New Jersey sports betting, as well as the other aforementioned territories. William Hill and 888 Sport sit proudly in that number.
How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby
Unless you are at the venue itself, online betting sites will be your go-to source of the latest antepost odds. With every incoming event on the planet being just a click away, online betting is the obvious solution to those away from the racecourse itself.
Many bookmakers have generous offers that can be used on great horse racing events such as betting on the Kentucky Derby. These will usually take the form of matched bet bonuses or free bet offers that are exclusive only to new customers, who sign up via a banner link advertising such offers or opt in if signing up via the regular bookmakers’ URL, without any special code in it.
With the latter, a new registrant will get only the winnings (if any) that the bet yields, in lieu of receiving the wager amount and the payout. That would be the case if using ‘wallet’ funds to wager as normal.
Matched bet bonuses are different in that the stake is returned, along with any winnings. However, these offers are accompanied by wagering requirements, which means that the bonus amount must be played a set number of times to make a withdrawal of any winnings possible.
Specific events will be easy to find via (firstly) the ‘horse racing’ tab, and then the list of events for which antepost odds are available. On certain sites, in the case of the Kentucky Derby, a ‘thoroughbred’ tab may need to be selected between ‘horse racing’ and ‘Kentucky Derby’ in order to show odds.
Betting at Teller
For those fortunate enough to be at the Kentucky Derby, tellers can accommodate any type of bet. Bettors need only state the name of the track, the race number (e.g. fifth, sixth etc), the wager amount, the type of wager and the horse (or horses) to be backed. Calculations, and potential payouts, are instant.
Off Track Betting
Off-track betting (OTB) involves the bettor placing a wager, in person, on a horse racing event away from the ground. Visiting an OTB parlor enables offline wagering with physical tender, with odds and hot tips that may be unavailable online.
Is it legal to bet on the Kentucky Derby in the United States?
Although it is not yet legal across the entire country, betting on horse racing is legal in a much wider range of states compared to sports betting. This makes the Kentucky Derby perhaps not only the most wagered-on event in horse racing, but also – potentially – the biggest betting draw of any American-based sporting event.
US horse betting laws vary state by state, with four being current focal points for horse racing.
- New Jersey: Atlantic City has been a powerhouse of betting, but with online gambling legalized in November 2013, NJ’s existing reputation as a liberal mecca for gambling was redoubled. OTB parlors have been available in NJ since 2007, and there are currently five active parlors in the state. Derby fans can get in on the action via one of the many legal betting sites in NJ including Caesars, Harrah’s and Sugarhouse. New Jersey bettors can bet on the Kentucky Derby at TVG or Twinspires.
- Pennsylvania: Wagering on harness and thoroughbred horse racing events has been legal in PA since the 1960s. With a rich history of wagering on horse racing, the state of PA has a number of sites where it is possible to bet on the Breeders’ Cup. OTB parlors that deal exclusively in thoroughbred events can currently be found in Grantville, Bensalem and Erie. Like NJ, there are a number of PA online sportsbooks, however, you’ll need to choose from a legal racing site to bet on the Kentucky Derby. This includes TVG, BetAmerica or TwinSpires.
- West Virginia: OTB opportunities are less plentiful on WV compared to PA and NJ. However, off-track Kentucky Derby betting is possible at two locations, namely the Sportsbook parlors at Hollywood Casino (at Charles Town Races) and the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack in Chester.
While people in Indiana can go online and wager on horse races, the penalties for going online to actively seek illegal or unlicensed wagering opportunities are potentially harsh. This makes the presence of OTB locations in Indiana all the more convenient.
As in WV, there are currently two OTB locations: Hoosier Park in Anderson and the Indiana Downs Racetrack in Shelbyville.
Legal betting options in the US
Bettors in states that allow betting on horse racing online have access to a number of options.
Formed in 1993, TVG is seen by many as the leading authority when it comes to online betting on thoroughbred events like the Kentucky Derby. Anyone with a TVG account has access to an ever-growing number of tracks (currently 150+), both in the United States and the rest of the world.
TVG endeavors to offer bettors the same value of bets that they would find at an OTB parlor, or a teller station at a racetrack, and the value is guaranteed by the fact that the online bettor’s money is pooled together with the wagers of those at the track itself.
For those who live in a state that allows the full range of sports betting opportunities, BetAmerica is an extremely popular choice, with the site making every effort to provide advice for bettors of all experience levels. Its mobile app also has an excellent reputation, and though any newcomers seeking a special offer will need to contend with wagering requirements, this is nothing out of the ordinary.
For those seeking particularly impressive value for their custom, the final weekend of every October is unmissable.
Operated by Churchill Downs racetrack (active since 1875), races on Twin Spires cover Europe, Africa, western Asia and Oceania as well as North America. The list of upcoming races is easy to navigate, and once the bet is placed, the race can be streamed in real time for added drama and excitement.
One of Twin Spires’ most intriguing features is the range of interfaces that are available year-round.
TwinSpires TV is the tool that enables the viewing of races in real time, with viewers able to switch between the wagering page and the live stream across separate windows/tabs. In the TV interface, priority is given to the live stream, with the wagering page put inside a smaller separate window.
Users can also use the Express & Pro interface, where the wagering page is instead displayed with more prominence than the live feed. This is best-suited for those in the betting profession, including traders, with this interface showing a news feed along with other elements such as an advanced race program.
Meanwhile, the Classic interface blends both parts of the live experience equally, with handicapping tools and betting pools taking priority over the full range of online facilities typically used by experienced horse racing professionals.
Legal betting options in the UK
The culture of horse racing in the UK extends back in excess of 1,800 years, and media coverage of the main events on the calendar is extensive. Amongst that number are the Aintree Grand National, Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival, which are the most reliable generators of online betting traffic for horse racing in the UK.
In terms of percentage, payouts are consistently in the high 80s to mid-90s, with an average of just over 90% as of July 2019. On top of wagering opportunities that cover over 200 venues, live streaming of races in the UK and Ireland is also available, but that is subject to a minimum bet value per race.
The mobile app also allows accumulator selections to be modified or erased up until the start of the race.
With similarly generous average payouts, Betway also enjoys a sterling reputation. Though it only launched in 2006, the brand has risen through the ranks, and now has 2m+ users (and counting) across Europe.
A huge part of Betway’s competitive edge is the HorseFinder tool, which enables users to get the best odds possible – particularly for horses that are underrated. That, combined with the notably-generous welcome offer, makes Betway a much sought-after source of good value for betting on horse races.
Legal betting options in Canada
It is legal to bet on the Kentucky Derby in Canada, and the event attracts a remarkable amount of interest for a non-US audience.
As a native brand, Sports Interaction is naturally seen as the market leader in Canada for betting on the Kentucky Derby, with a $200 free bonus, accompanying a five-star rating on several respected comparison sites across Canada.
Types of bets
The horse racing industry is reliant on offering a wide range of betting options in order to stay commercially successful and economically profitable. The main types of bet for thoroughbred race events are:
The most common type of wager is a single bet ‘on the nose’, where a horse must win outright to enable a payout.
‘Place only’ bet
Place bets require a horse to finish a certain distance up the final classification list after the race ends. How high the horse must finish to yield a payout depends on the number of runners:
- <5 runners – 1st (see ‘Single bet’)
- 5-7 – 1st or 2nd (odds/payout reduced by 75%)
- >8 – 1st/2nd/3rd (odds/payout reduced by 80%)
- Handicap (12-15 runners) – 1st/2nd/3rd (odds/payout reduced by 75%)
- Handicap (>15 runners) – 1st/2nd/3rd/4th (odds/payout reduced by 75%)
Half of the stake goes on a horse to win, while the other half is wagered on a horse to be ‘placed’. The stake amount is doubled, but if the horse wins, then both of the potential payout amounts – for the win and the place – are awarded together along with the returned stake.
Accumulator / Multiple bet
Accumulators are bets on multiple horses, with all needing to prevail (be that by means of a win or merely a placing) for a winning bet.
Doubles (two horses), Trebles (three) and Four-fold are the most popular types of multiple bet. Although there is no limit on how many horses can be included, all online bookmakers will have a winnings cap, or an alternative means by which they can protect themselves from astronomic payouts (i.e 7 or 8+ figures) on accumulators.
There are also other types of multiple bet, in which not all of the selections must prevail for a payout. The only catch is that the stake is automatically multiplied by the number of possible ‘winning lines’. They have unique names, and stipulations, as follows:
- Trixie (Each-way Trixie)
Min. 2/3 selections must prevail | Stake multiplier/Winning lines: x4 (x8)
2/3 selections | Stake multiplier: x7
2/4 selections | Stake multiplier: x11
- Lucky 15
1/4 selections | Stake multiplier: x15
- Lucky 31
1/5 selections | Stake multiplier: x31
- Lucky 63
1/6 selections | Stake multiplier: x63
2/8 selections | Stake multiplier: x247
Exacta / Forecast
A bet on the exact finishing order of the top two horses. This differs from Quinella / Reverse Forecast, where the top two must match the prediction, but in any order.
The bravest of bettors will entertain the idea of placing a jackpot bet. Simply put, this involves the selection of the first six winners of the day at any track. Winnings can be life-changing, but there is an easier version, called a ‘Placepot’ bet, which involves betting on the first six horses to ‘place’ on a track day.
Kentucky Derby odds
The odds for the Kentucky Derby have plenty of room for fluctuation between now and the start on May 2, 2020 at Churchill Downs. These are the odds as they currently stand:
The 2020 Kentucky derby odds will be posted here once the odds are released. The table below outlines the 2019 odds at post.
|1||War of Will||Tyler Gaffalione||15/1|
|3||By My Standards||Gabriel Saez||15/1|
|4||Gray Magician||Drayden Van Dyke||50/1|
|5||Improbable||Irad Ortiz Jr.||5/1|
|7||Maximum Security||Luis Saez||8/1|
|9||Plus Que Parfait||Ricardo Santana Jr.||30/1|
|10||Cutting Humor||Corey Lanerie||30/1|
|12||Code of Honor||John Velazquez||12/1|
|13||Win Win Win||Julian Pimentel||12/1|
|14||Master Fencer||Julien Leparoux||50/1|
|15||Game Winner||Joel Rosario||9/2|
|17||Long Range Toddy||Jon Court||30/1|
|19||Country House||Flavien Prat||30/1|
Kentucky Derby predictions & picks
The result of the 2019 event left its immediate successor open to much interpretation.
A long-shot commanding moneyline prices of up to +6500, Country House (ridden by Flavien Prat) was awarded the win after the first horse to cross the line, Maximum Security, was adjudged to have cost War of Will and Long Range Todd a better placing, and subsequently disqualified.
Additionally, prior to the race, the morning line favorite Omaha Beach was scratched, while the highly-fancied Game Winner finished only fifth – just a quarter of a length ahead of the +5000 outsider Master Fencer.
A full list of predictions from a range of experts will be published here closer to the time of the 2020 event.
List of Kentucky Derby Winners – Horse – Jockey – Time
|2019||Country House||Flavien Prat||2:03.93|
|2018||Justify||Mike E. Smith||2:04.20|
|2017||Always Dreaming||John R. Velazquez||2:03.59|
|2015||American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza||2:03.02|
|2014||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||2:03.66|
|2012||I'll Have Another||Mario Gutierrez||2:01.83|
|2011||Animal Kingdom||John Velazquez||2:02.04|
|2010||Super Saver||Calvin Borel||2:04.45|
|2009||Mine That Bird||Calvin Borel||2:02.66|
|2008||Big Brown||Kent Desormeaux||2:01.82|
|2007||Street Sense||Calvin Borel||2:02.17|
|2004||Smarty Jones||Stewart Elliot||2:04.06|
|2003||Funny Cide||José Santos||2:01.19|
|2002||War Emblem||Victor Espinoza||2:01.13|
|2000||Fusaichi Pegasus||Kent Desormeaux||2:01|
|1998||Real Quiet||Kent Desormeaux||2:02 1/5|
|1997||Silver Charm||Gary Stevens||2:02 2/5|
|1995||Thunder Gulch||Gary Stevens||2:01 1/5|
|1994||Go for a Gin||Chris McCarron||2:03 3/5|
|1993||Sea Hero||Jerry Bailey||2:02|
|1992||Lil E. Tee||Pat Day||2:03|
|1991||Strike the Gold||Chris Antley||2:03|
|1989||Sunday Silence||Patrick Valenzuela||2:05|
|1988||Winning Colors||Gary Stevens||2:02 1/5|
|1986||Ferdinand||William Shoemaker||2:02 4/5|
|1985||Spend a Buck||Angel Cordero, Jr.||2:00 1/5|
|1984||Swale||Laffit Pincay, Jr.||2:02 2/5|
|1983||Sunny's Halo||Eddie Delahoussaye||2:02 1/5|
|1982||Gato Del Sol||Eddie Delahoussaye||2:02 2/5|
|1981||Pleasant Colony||Jorge Velasquez||2:02|
|1980||Genuine Risk||Jacinto Vasquez||2:02|
|1979||Spectacular Bid||Ronnie Franklin||2:02 2/5|
|1978||Affirmed||Steve Cauthen||2:01 1/5|
|1977||Seattle Slew||Jean Cruguet||2:02 1/5|
|1976||Bold Forbes||Angel Cordero, Jr.||2:01 3/5|
|1975||Foolish Pleasure||Jacinto Vasquez||2:02|
|1974||Cannonade||Angel Cordero, Jr.||2:04|
|1973||Secretariat||Ron Turcotte||1:59 2/5|
|1973||Riva Ridge||Ron Turcotte||2:01 4/5|
|1971||Canonero II||Gustavo Avila||2:03 1/5|
|1970||Dust Commander||Mike Manganello||2:03 2/5|
|1969||Majestic Prince||William Hartack||2:01 4/5|
|1968||Forward Pass||Ismael Valenzuela||2:02 1/5|
|1967||Proud Clarion||Robert Ussery||2:00 3/5|
|1966||Kauai King||Don Brumfield||2:02|
|1965||Lucky Debonair||William Shoemaker||2:01 1/5|
|1964||Northern Dancer||William Hartack||2:00|
|1963||Chateaugay||Braulio Baeza||2:01 4/5|
|1962||Decidedly||William Hartack||2:00 2/5|
|1961||Carry Back||John Sellers||2:04|
|1960||Venetian Way||William Hartack||2:02 2/5|
|1959||Tomy Lee||William Shoemaker||2:02 1/5|
|1958||Tim Tam||Ismael Valenzuela||2:05|
|1957||Iron Liege||William Hartack||2:01 1/5|
|1956||Needles||David Erb||2:03 2/5|
|1955||Swaps||William Shoemaker||2:01 4/5|
|1953||Dark Star||Henry Moreno||2:02|
|1952||Hill Gail||Eddie Arcaro||2:01 3/5|
|1951||Count Turf||Conn McCreary||2:02 3/5|
|1950||Middleground||William Boland||2:01 3/5|
|1949||Ponder||Steve Brooks||2:04 1/5|
|1948||Citation||Eddie Arcaro||2:05 2/5|
|1947||Jet Pilot||Eric Guerin||2:06 4/5|
|1946||Assault||Warren Mehrtens||2:06 3/5|
|1945||Hoop Jr.||Eddie Arcaro||2:07|
|1943||Pensive||Conn McCreary||2:04 1/5|
|1942||Shut Out||Wayne D. Wright||2:04 2/5|
|1941||Whirlaway||Eddie Arcaro||2:01 2/5|
|1939||Johnstown||James Stout||2:03 2/5|
|1938||Lawrin||Eddie Arcaro||2:04 4/5|
|1937||War Admiral||Charle Kurtsinger||2:03 1/5|
|1936||Bold Venture||Ira Hanford||2:03 3/5|
|1933||Brokers Tip||Don Meade||2:06 4/5|
|1932||Burgoo King||Basil James||2:05 1/5|
|1931||Twenty Grand||Charle Kurtsinger||2:01 4/5|
|1930||Gallant Fox||Earl Sande||2:07 3/5|
|1929||Clyde Van Dusen||Linus McAtee||2:10 4/5|
|1928||Reigh Count||Charle Lang||2:10 2/5|
|1926||Bubbling Over||Albert Johnson||2:03 4/5|
|1925||Flying Ebone||Earl Sande||2:07 3/5|
|1924||Black Gold||John D. Mooney||2:05 1/5|
|1923||Zev||Earl Sande||2:05 2/5|
|1922||Morvich||Albert Johnson||2:04 3/5|
|1921||Behave Yourself||Charles Thompson||2:04 1/5|
|1920||Paul Jones||Ted Rice||2:09|
|1919||Sir Barton||John Loftus||2:09 4/5|
|1918||Exterminator||William Knapp||2:10 4/5|
|1917||Omar Khayyam||Charles||2:04 3/5|
|1916||George Smith||John Loftus||2:04|
|1914||Old Rosebud||John McCabe||2:03 2/5|
|1913||Donerail||Roscoe Goose||2:04 4/5|
|1912||Worth||Carroll Hugh Shilling||2:09 2/5|
|1910||Donau||George Ham||2:06 2/5|
|1909||Wintergreen||Vincent Powers||2:08 1/5|
|1908||Stone Street||Arthur Pickens||2:15 1/5|
|1907||Pink Street||Andy Minder||2:12 3/5|
|1906||Sir Huon||Roscoe Troxler||2:08 4/5|
|1905||Agile||Jack Martin||2:10 3/4|
|1904||Elwood||Frank Prior||2:08 1/2|
|1903||Judge Himes||Harold Booker||2:09|
|1902||Alan-a-Dale||Jimmy Winkfield||2:08 3/4|
|1901||His Eminence||Jimmy Winkfield||2:07 3/4|
|1900||Lieut. Gibson||Jimmy Boland||2:06 1/2|
|1897||Typhoon II||Buttons Garner||2:12 1/2|
|1896||Ben Brush||Willie Simms||2:07 3/4|
|1895||Helma||Soup Perkins||2:37 1/2|
|1893||Lookout||Eddie Kunze||2:39 1/4|
|1892||Azra||Alonzo Clayton||2:41 1/2|
|1891||Kingman||Isaac Murphy||2:52 1/4|
|1889||Spokane||Thomas Kiley||2:34 1/2|
|1888||Macbeth II||George Covington||2:38 1/4|
|1887||Montrose||Isaac Lewis||2:39 1/4|
|1886||Ben Ali||Paul Duffy||2:36 1/2|
|1885||Joe Cotton||Erkine Henderson||2:37 1/4|
|1884||Bechanan||Isaac Murphy||2:40 1/4|
|1882||Apollo||Babe Hurd||2:40 1/4|
|1880||Fonso||George Garret Lewis||2:37 1/2|
|1879||Lord Murphey||Charlie Shauer||2:37|
|1878||Day Star||Jimmy Carter||2:37 1/4|
|1875||Vagrant||Bobby Swim||2:38 1/4|
|1874||Aristrides||Oliver Lewis||2:37 3/4|