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How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby in 2024

First held in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has since developed into the most famous horse race held in America. It is open to three-year-olds and acts as the traditional first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Horse Racing in the USA. Here, you can learn how to bet on the Kentucky Derby effectively.

Discover how the race is structured and how entries work. Read on to find out the top Kentucky Derby betting tips. With stats and trends, plus details of the markets and how favorites have fared, you can develop a Kentucky Derby betting strategy that works.

Kentucky Derby Online Betting Tips

BMB_Markets GenericWhat are our Kentucky Derby best picks for 2024? That is what everyone wants to know. We base our Kentucky Derby betting tips on who has caught the eye rather than the online bookmakers' betting market. Which horses do we like for the race this year? Read this mini Kentucky Derby preview below to find out who we fancy for the big race at Churchill Downs:

Tip 1: Epicenter to Win at 7/2 (4.50)

Zandon is the short-priced favourite (3/1) to win this year, after spectacular performances leading up to the race. However, we are going to look another way and back Epicenter to win. Epicenter beat Zandor in the Risen Star Stakes earlier this year, and the post position means that jockey Joel Rosario will have to force a strong start. 

Tip 2: Smile Happy to Win Each Way at 20/1 (21.00)

Smile Happy has a great off-the-pace running style and managed an incredible win at the Classic Causeway at Churchill Downs. Previous races have shown that it can cause trouble to both Epicenter and Zandon, but the nature of the race does not allow us to back it to win straight up. This is why the each/way coverage is key. 

Why Should I Bet on the Kentucky Derby?

BMB_BankrollAs one of the most prestigious races in America, Kentucky Derby futures betting is available for most of the year. That is a clear advantage, and the global interest in the race means high-profile horses take part. When you engage in Kentucky Derby wagering, it’s on racehorses that are well-known.

That means it is easy to research the form. Given the field size is 20, there should be extra places available when betting with some bookmakers if you like to put each-way bets on. As with everything, however, there are potential downsides.

Due to the large field of horses running in the Kentucky Derby, a bad gate draw can lead to trouble. Betting on a horse that likes to be held up means you are gambling on gaps appearing as much as it performing to its best on the day.

If stewards determine that horses have caused interference, they can disqualify them from the race. This occurred in 2019 with Maximum Security. Knowing how to bet on the Kentucky Derby involves checking whether the bookie you have placed your bets with pays out on the first past the post.

Where Can I Bet on the Kentucky Derby

The following shortlist includes the top-rated Kentucky Derby betting sites according to our expert analysis. The criteria we chose them were payouts, whether or not they offer betting insurance and range of markets compared to the rest of the competition: 

Kentucky Derby Betting Preview: Horses Running

As there is so much interest in the race, entries are structured in their own unique way. The Road to the Kentucky Derby series is a points system based on how the horses have previously performed. A maximum field of 20 horses running in the Kentucky Derby is allowed. To decide who gets those places, the horses race elsewhere, and those with the most points get spots.

Some Kentucky Derby qualifying races are more valuable than others. The series starts in the previous fall with races for Flat juveniles (two-year-olds) who could run in the big race the following year. What’s great about the Road to the Kentucky Derby is there are races at tracks all across America with separate qualifiers in Asia (UAE and Japan) and Europe (the UK, Ireland, and France).

What is Churchill Downs Racecourse Like

Horse racing CourseIf you want to know how to bet on the Kentucky Derby, then you need to understand the racecourse. Horses run down the home stretch twice and make a full circuit of Churchill Downs. The dirt track is oval in shape and about a mile round.

Also Read: How to Bet on Horse Racing Online

All races at Churchill Downs go counter-clockwise (left-handed). There is also a mile chute and a tighter turf track on the inside of the dirt one. There are no real undulations, so Churchill Downs is relatively flat all the way around.

Key Kentucky Derby Qualifying Races

In order for you to make the right betting decisions, you need to know what the key trials for the race are. The Road to the Kentucky Derby includes 35 races over seven months (September to April), and in many states. Following them all may be difficult. Here are the ten key Kentucky Derby qualifying races run in America at springtime:

Race Racecourse City - State Month
Fountain Of Youth Stakes Gulfstream Park Hallandale Beach, Florida March
Tampa Bay Derby Tampa Bay Downs Oldsmar, Florida March
San Felipe Stakes Santa Anita Park Arcadia, California March
Rebel Stakes Oaklawn Park Hot Springs, Arkansas March
Louisiana Derby Fair Grounds New Orleans, Louisiana March
Florida Derby Gulfstream Park Hallandale Beach, Florida March
Wood Memorial Stakes Aqueduct Ozone Park, Queens, New York April
Blue Grass Stakes Keeneland Lexington, Kentucky April
Santa Anita Derby Santa Anita Park Arcadia, California April
Arkansas Derby Oaklawn Park Hot Springs, Arkansas April

Of all trials, the Florida Derby and Santa Anita Derby have proved the most useful in recent years. That is why the horses who won those races often feature among the Kentucky Derby best picks given by experts. Online bookmakers know this, so be prepared for their odds to be shorter. As with any horse race, Kentucky Derby wagering is about balancing form and implied probability against potential.

Past Stats and Trends

If key statistics and race trends play their part in shaping the market, then the same goes for your Kentucky Derby wagering. While stats are only an indicator of what has happened in the past, you make yourself better informed by paying attention to them. That is how to bet on the Kentucky Derby right. These key trends would be quoted in a Kentucky Derby preview:

⏩ Bob Baffert has trained five winners, but only two since 2002, yet both have been in the last five years.

⏩ Doug O’Neill and Todd Pletcher have both saddled two Kentucky Derby winners each in the last decade.

⏩ Since 1882 just one horse, Justify, has won the race without running as a two-year-old.

⏩ Calvin Borel is the most successful active jockey, partnering with four previous Kentucky Derby winners.

⏩ Victor Espinoza is next best among active jockeys with three wins, including twice in the last decade.

⏩ Mario Gutierrez and John Velazquez have also ridden two Kentucky Derby winners in the last ten years.

⏩ Since 2012, three winners of both the Florida Derby and Santa Anita Derby have won the Kentucky Derby.

Should I Back the Kentucky Derby Favourites

BMB_Question MarkIt may interest you to know that horse racing favourites have a 50 per cent success rate this century in the Derby. That means the market leader has won it as often as not. Consider this for your Kentucky Derby wagering.

It is a higher threshold than the overall average in horse races where the horse at the head of the betting only finishes first about a third of the time. When asked how to bet on the Kentucky Derby, then the answer is do not discount the favorite because six in a row won it between 2013 and 2018.

Is Antepost Betting Worth it?

BMB_Question MarkThere is also a strong case for doing your Kentucky Derby wagering in advance. This is because oddsmakers and online bookies will shorten the prices of leading contenders the closer you get to the big race.

While the plus side is you are more likely to get better odds in the Kentucky Derby futures betting, you are not guaranteed a run for your money. Bookmakers may also offer extra places for each way bets once the race has declared to drum up further interest nearer the time. The benefits outweigh the drawbacks if you have done all your research properly.

Alternative US Horse Racing Events

Apart from being part of the Triple Crown series, the United States hosts numerous other notable horse racing events throughout the year. If you're a novice, there's no need to worry. Our team has created detailed guides for all these races, ensuring you have the information you need. Check out the guides below:

Preakness Betting Tips

Belmont Stakes Betting Guide

Pegasus World Cup Betting Tips

Can You Bet on the Kentucky Derby Online

BMB_Book SpyYes, there may be value in Kentucky Derby wagering, but the task is to identify the favorite before that value disappears. As the market leader has an excellent recent record in the race, you need to bet in the futures market well ahead of time and give yourself the insurance of getting an each-way price.

With so many Kentucky Derby qualifying races taking place, the early ante post market can be quite open. You have to be patient and sit on the wager you have placed. Pay attention to the Kentucky Derby betting tips given here, and you won’t go far wrong. There are more difficult races to gamble on than this one, based on recent trends and stats.

Looking at these is how to bet on the Kentucky Derby correctly. With a whole series of races carrying points which enable the horses to get into it, things are set up nicely to help you find who will win the Kentucky Derby. Know how that system is weighted and adjust your Kentucky Derby betting strategy accordingly.

Full list of Kentucky Derby betting sites

Q: Is there going to be a Kentucky Derby in 2022?

Absolutely, but it is taking place later in the year than usual. The Kentucky Derby in 2022 is scheduled for Saturday, 5 September. It will return to it's regular schedule in 2021, being the first leg of the American Triple Crown in horse racing.

Q: Who is in the Kentucky Derby 2022?

A maximum field of 20 horses running in the Kentucky Derby is allowed. Those with the highest number of points from the Road to the Kentucky Derby series receive entries. There are 35 qualifying races over a seven month period and in various states.

Q: Can I bet on the Kentucky Derby online?

Yes, you can, and here is how to bet on the Kentucky Derby online. Top sportsbooks and betting websites will have a market available for most of the year leading up to it. This is called the Kentucky Derby futures betting or ante post market.

Q: How much money does the winner of the Kentucky Derby get?

The prize money awarded to the winner of the last Kentucky Derby was approximately $1,800,000. Racehorse owners must pay a $25,000 entry fee for the Kentucky Derby. Once their horse goes into the starting gate, then they owe another $25,000 for the run.

Q: Who is the favorite for the 2022 Kentucky Derby?

Zandon is the favorite for the 2022 Kentucky Derby at 3/1 (4.00) odds. After that, Epicenter and Messier are following at 7/2 and 8/1 odds respectively.

Q: Who was the fastest horse to win the Kentucky Derby?

Secretariat holds the track record for the Kentucky Derby at 1 minute, 59.4 seconds set in 1973. Secretariat also won the Triple Crown in 1973 and is considered by many one of the top racehorses of all time.

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