Kentucky Derby Betting

Louisville, UNITED STATES: Kentucky Derby hopeful Sinister Minister with stable assistant Mick Jenner aboard is seen during morning work-outs 04 May, 2006 preparing for the 132nd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The Derby will be held on 06 May. (JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
Each year, the Kentucky Derby attracts huge betting turnover as everyone – from racing fanatics to those who don’t pay much attention to racing during the rest of the year – wagers on the likely winner. Betting on a possible Triple Crown winner is also very popular, especially in years when likely contenders for this feat are part of the field.

Kentucky Derby Betting Tips

The Kentucky Derby odds, or tote board, is probably the first place to look when you’re trying to pick a winner. However, it pays to do some extra research. In Kentucky Derby history, only about a third of the 133 races run so far have been won by horses that entered the races with the best Kentucky Derby odds.

A good betting tip is to start by identifying the contenders with the best Kentucky Derby odds and then to narrow down the list by checking each of these horses’ credentials.

You should check that:

  • A horse has raced within a month prior to the Kentucky Derby – the last horse to win without racing within 35 days of the Kentucky Derby was Needles in 1956.
  • The horse has performed well – winning or coming second – in a recent race of a similar distance. Horses may perform well over one distance but poorly over another.
  • The horse was raced and performed well as a two-year-old – in Kentucky Derby history it’s almost unheard of for a horse that didn’t race as a two-year-old to win.
  • The trainer and jockey for the horse have won or achieved places in most of their previous races.
  • The jockey for a horse hasn’t been changed, and the jockey and horse work together well as a team – with wins in previous races over similar distances.

The Dosage System

In Kentucky Derby betting and odds, many take the ancestry of horses into account. If stallions from the first four generations of a horse’s line showed particular speed and stamina, that horse will have a higher number of points in what’s known as the “dosage index”. A rating of 4.00 points or less indicates a top horse, or “chefs de race”.

Only four horses with dosages higher than 4.00 have ever won the Kentucky Derby – although all in recent times. They include Strike The Gold in 1991, Real Quiet in 1998, Charismatic in 1999 and Giacomo in 2005.

Beyer Speed Figures

Washington Post turf columnist Andrew Beyer ranks horses based on their speed on different tracks on different days. A high Beyer number – at least in theory – identifies a faster horse.

Kentucky Derby Betting Options

You can choose to bet on an outright race winner, on positions in the Kentucky Derby, or on a combination of winner and position. A combination bet gives you a better chance, although the stakes will be smaller.

You can also choose to place your Kentucky Derby bets well in advance of the race, instead of among the crowds at totes on the day.