How to Bet the Kentucky Derby

They don’t call it the “two most exciting minutes in sports” for nothing.

The Kentucky Derby, contested on the first Saturday of May each year at Churchill Downs, is one of the great spectacles in all of sport, and the only major sporting event in the U.S. where you can wager on the result legally from the comfort of home.

For horseplayers the race is usually one of the toughest handicapping challenges of the entire year. There usually is a full field of 20 mostly lightly raced three-year-olds, all trying 1 ¼ miles for the first time in their careers. The runners come into Louisville from all parts of the U.S. and sometimes aboard.

With three-years-olds racing fewer times than in previous generations, handicappers have less to go on, and “rules” that were followed in past years are going by the wayside.

Street Sense showed that a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner could win the Run for the Roses. Barbaro showed the race could be won off a five week layoff. Mine That Bird proved a horse prepping at Sunland Park could win the big dance. I’ll Have Another won despite having a Derby rookie Mario Gutierrez aboard for the ride.

They say rules are made to be broken and that rings true in the last decade when it comes to America’s most important horse race.

With all that in mind here are five basic betting tips for betting on the Kentucky Derby:

1. Look for a price and value. Why bet chalk?
2. Chose a contender that had a final prep that was sharp in a Grade 1 race. It does not necessarily have to be a win.
3. An established trainer certainly helps.
4. Don’t downgrade a “lesser known” jockey. See Mario Gutierrez and Stewart Elliott.
5. Don’t forget there are a wide variety of wagers from traditional win bets to a superfecta.  Stay within your betting limits and don’t forget there are 13 races on the Derby Day card. Plan out your bets carefully and have a plan for your wagering bankroll.