Kentucky Derby Betting Sites
The Kentucky Derby, known worldwide as "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports" highlights the fastest horses in the world in the first part of the iconic three-leg race famously regarded as the Triple Crown.
While the Kentucky Derby is just the beginning of the world's most prestigious horse racing event, it is forever iconic on its own. Due to being the horse racing event that kicks off the horse racing season's most crucial run, it also is consistently the highest attended.
The Kentucky Derby has a rich history, both in competitiveness and tradition, and is unsurprisingly also one of the most bet on sporting events every year. With betting only growing as each year passes, it becomes more and more important to choose the right sites to bet at. That has led to us profiling the most legit Kentucky Derby betting sites, while also detailing some sound strategy you may want to incorporate when you bet.
Our List of the Best Kentucky Derby Betting Sites for 2018
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The thing that goes hand in hand with betting on the Kentucky Derby is the ability to do so online, from the comfort of your own home, or even on the fly via a mobile device. Things change so rapidly with the Kentucky Derby and there is often so much cash involved, that the last thing you want to worry about is using a betting site that gives bad odds, has poor customer service, lacks versatility or isn't trustworthy.
We highlight only the best and most legit Kentucky Derby betting sites, as we want our readers to not just enjoy the race, but know that when they win, they're for sure getting their money. This table showcases the best betting websites you'll find online:
The only problem with a wide array of betting sites is that you have to narrow the selection down to one. The good news is this list helps that process and no matter which one you pick, you know you'll be getting a reliable site that you can trust.
Kentucky Derby History
You know where to bet on the big race, but what good does that do you if you don't know anything about it? Anytime you plan on laying down your hard-earned cash at an online betting site (or plan on doing any sports betting, for that matter), it's good to know the specifics of what you're betting on.
Starting with the history of the Kentucky Derby, let's go over the entire event so we can map out the best way to bet on one of horse racing's most iconic races:
- What is the Kentucky Derby?
The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for 3-year old Thoroughbreds and is run at a distance of one and a quarter miles at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The race marks the end of the yearly Kentucky Derby Festival and operates as the first leg in the prestigious horse racing event known around the world as the Triple Crown.
Referred to also as the "Run For the Roses" for a sheet of roses placed on the winning horse, the race ranks amongst the top four horse races in the calendar year and is arguably the most iconic.
- When Was the First Kentucky Derby?
The first one was run on May 17th, 1875 and has run every single year since it's initial run. The first race included 15 three-year old horses and was performed in front of approximately 10,000 cheering onlookers. The race was born after Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. got the idea to create a jockey club after a visit to Paris, France.
The Kentucky Derby stands in as the longest running Triple Crown race thanks to both the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes enduring temporary stops in their history.
Betting on the Kentucky Derby
Betting on the race can be loads of fun (and highly profitable), but you still want to be sure you know what you're doing, what the top betting sites are and what kind of strategies can help you win.
- Where Can You Bet on the Kentucky Derby?
There are endless options for betting, starting with Vegas. You can also bet on or a variety of legit websites like Bovada, BetOnline and others.
There are always going to be several venues for all sports betting, but the trick isn't to just find the most popular one - but one that provides good odds and is safe and trustworthy.
- Where is the Best Place to Bet?
The best place to bet on the Kentucky Derby is probably Bovada. Precisely where you want to place any bet can be highly subjective and over time your opinion will be based on personal taste and success, but Bovada has rapidly grown to be one of the most trusted betting sites online.
Even though Bovada hasn't been around as long as some others, it has grown to be one of the highest rated sports betting websites, offers an array of impressive bonuses and promotions, has elite customer service and always extends speedy and successful payouts. If you want good odds and a safe place to bet on the race, you can choose any of the sites we mentioned above. If you want the best place, though, Bovada fits the bill.
- What Bets Are Popular?
There are three main bets you can make on the Kentucky Derby, as well as most horse racing events:
These bets are all fairly simple and straightforward. If you bet on your horse to Win, they need to take first place for you to win the allocated prize. Horses with really good odds that are either the favorite or among the top contenders won't pay out as much, while horses that are deep sleepers or borderline longshots can pay off massively.
If you pick your horse to Place, they can finish second and you can still win your bet. Place bets pay out winnings anytime you pick a horse than finishes first or second.
Show is the last main bet, where your horse needs to be among the top three finishers. If your horse places first, second or third, you come away with money.
There are more complex bets to be made:
- Boxed Wagers
These horse racing bets might be a little less common just because they're difficult to pull off. The payout can be great, but your odds of hitting on so many perfect picks are just not very good.
Still, if you want to bet on how the horses finish, you can make a considerable profit when you're right. Exacta bets on which two horses will finish first and second. You must guess the correct two horses and they must finish in the exact order (1st and 2nd) that you bet they will in order to win.
A Trifecta bet is the exact same but, but made more difficult by including a third horse and correctly predicting the finishers for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the race. As you might imagine, a Superfecta bet requires you get four horses correctly picked among the first four finishers (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th).
Quinella bets are just like Exacta bets, but they don't require you to get the correct order. If you have to horses you favor over the rest of the field, you can bet on them finish in first or second place, but can win even if you don't get the order right.
There are also Boxed Wagers, which can give you a better chance of winning, so long as you have a good eye for the horses that will finish ahead of the pack. Depending what that number is (as detailed with Exacta bets), you can box the bet and hope your picks finish at the top of the pack. Whatever the number of horses is (2, 3, 4, etc), you win if all the horses you selected finish in those top spots, even if they don't finish in a specific order.
Kentucky Derby Betting History
When it comes to horse racing, nothing is bigger than the Triple Crown. With the Kentucky Derby being the first leg of the biggest horse race each year, it's fair to say it might be the most important event in horse racing, as well.
Even if that's not the case, it's still a big deal and sparks the biggest three-event run in sports and still brings in a ton of betting action.
Per , over $138 million was bet legally at the tracks in 2015, with roughly $12 million bet on the Kentucky Derby specifically on site at Churchill Downs. The exact amount bet on the race each year is difficult to assess, especially with the millions being bet illegally and around the world.
That being said, we know it's in the steady millions on a yearly basis, although the estimated high of $24.5 million still stands from 2006. But that's just what we see at Churchill Downs on a regular basis. Factor in over $137 million on the Kentucky Derby alone in 2015, plus roughly $44 million in the month of May (when the race is held).
The betting numbers fluctuate monthly during the horse racing season and of course yearly, but the action is always hot and overall, we're looking at hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown at the Kentucky Derby. Needless to say, this is one of the grandest sports betting events every year, and one you'll want to get in on.
- Which Owner Has Won the Most Wins
The owner with the most Kentucky Derby wins remains Calumet Farm, who secured an incredible 8 titles from 1941-1968. No other owner has more than four.
- Which Trainers Have Won the Most?
at the Kentucky Derby. Jones helped take home titles in 1938, 1941, 1944, 1948 and 1952, giving him an impressive 6 Derby wins.
In the last 20 years, Bob Baffert is arguably regarded as the most prolific
- Which Jockeys Win the Most?
Two jockeys are tied above the . Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack both dominated in the 1950's and 1960's and ended their brilliant careers with five victories, each.
Calvin Borel and Victor Espinoza are two of the better jockeys in the modern era, as both have secured three wins at the iconic race. Mario Gutierrez is the most recent winner, having won the 2016 Kentucky Derby.
Has the Race Ever Been Rigged?
No, to the best of our knowledge, there has never been any instance where there was a firm belief the race was rigged. Horse racing is arguably one of the classiest and honorable types of sports betting and while it's possible there is corruption at various levels in horse betting, the Kentucky Derby is at too elite of a status - at least to this point - to give way to such corruption.
There has always been speculation and of course some allegations, especially with the common perception that jockeys care more about money than winning or the sport. It has always been just speculation, of course, as there has never been any actual proof that it has ever been rigged.
How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby
The biggest aspect of betting on the Kentucky Derby is figuring out which horse is going to win. There are a number of paths that can lead to the right pick, but the best way to try to guess the winner correctly each year is to avoid leaning on just one piece of information. Instead, try to collectively map out your betting strategy by considering all aspects.
There are definitely a few things you can do ahead of placing your bet to help increase your chances of winning. The following are arguably the most crucial aspects to betting on the race:
- Research History
- Scout the Horses
- Know the Odds
- Listen to Experts
This is all pretty obvious, but you wouldn't believe how often people throw caution to the wind and bet blindly at horse racing events. There is a common misconception that horse racing is more luck than anything else, but that really isn't the case. At least, it doesn't have to be.
The first thing you can do to help your own strategy is to research the history of the event. Know which owners, trainers and jockeys have fared well at Churchill Downs, what horses are on hot streaks or have won numerous races - and the list goes on.
You've already begun that by reading this page on Kentucky Derby betting sites, and knowing where to play can go hand in hand with that.
The odds are always crucial, but you can't let them be everything. The horses that come in with the best odds are not just the top pick for the race, but typically the leading threat to run the table and secure the ever elusive Triple Crown. Whether or not you think a horse is a legit contender or capable of making that historic run could play key into your own betting.
Listening to outside and inside voices is very important, too. Unless you are personally a horse racing expert - and heck, even if you are - getting other's opinions on the horses, tracks, trainers, owners and constantly changing horse racing trends can be very helpful in either backing a heavy favorite or picking a sneaky sleeper.
In summary, the Kentucky Derby is one of the most prestigious sporting events in the entire world, and hands down one of the top four races you'll see yearly on the horse racing circuit.
As popular and entertaining as it is, it makes for a fantastic stage for some lively sports betting. Just remember to pick a legit Kentucky Derby betting site you can trust and to lean on some of the points we've touched on to give yourself a chance to win big.
There is a lot to cover when it comes to the Kentucky Derby and where you want to bet on one of horse racing's top events, but for anything we didn't already touch on, here's a quick-hitting FAQ:
Why Does the Kentucky Derby Matter?
The Kentucky Derby is one of the most prestigious horse races that comes around every single year. The Fastest 2 Minutes in Sports packs months of anticipation into one two-minute race that kicks off the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Can Any Horse Race in the Kentucky Derby?
No, the Kentucky Derby is reserved only for three-year old horses, while most horses are also required to have already raced the year prior to competing, both to gain experience and prove their worth.
The age restriction for the race also helps make the event more special each year, as any given horse only has one crack at the Kentucky Derby, and so too, the Triple Crown.
How Many Horses Run?
The number of horses allowed into the Kentucky Derby has trimmed down over the years and now rests at an even 20. The Kentucky Derby actually enlists more horses than most horses races, but ever since 1975 (when they last had 23 horses in the race), they've had a 20-horse cut off.
The Kentucky Derby decides which horses enter the race by using a qualifying points system. This helps make sure the very best competition will face off, and also can enhance the betting experience. Limiting the number of horses also keeps the track less busy, limits the possibility of injuries and makes for a cleaner race.
How Long Does the Race Last?
The Kentucky Derby isn't dubbed the "most exciting two minutes in sports" for no reason. It's in fact one race that caps off a weekend of derby excitement and it is run in approximately two minutes. The Festival itself runs about two weeks and leads into one of the biggest horse races of the year.
How Much Money Do the Winners Get?
The winners of the race take home a huge purse, roughly around $2 million. It also ends up being the biggest cash prize for three-year old Thoroughbreds, as races just as famous like the Preakness Stakes ($1.5 million), the Belmont Stakes ($1.5 million) and the Arkansas Derby ($1 million) all earn less if they take first place.
It's not surprising that first wins that much money, but it is a bit surprising that the winner of the final leg of the Triple Crown (Belmont Stakes) is behind the Kentucky Derby.
When is the Kentucky Derby?
The race is held each year on the first Saturday in May. It was first introduced back in 1875 and has run every year since.
Where is it Held?
The race is held annually in Louisville, Kentucky at the famous Churchill Downs racetrack. The track first officially opened in 1875 and has hosted numerous prestigious horses races throughout its history. While Churchill Downs is best known for being the yearly host for the Kentucky Derby, it has also been the location for the Kentucky Oaks, the Breeders Cup and many other high level horse racing events.
How Can I Buy Kentucky Derby Tickets?
Buying tickets is a painless task, as most ticket providers sell one or two-day passes to the prestigious race months before the horses compete. Anyone interested in attending the Kentucky Derby live and in person can also order their tickets online at KentuckyDerby.com or pay at the door at the day of the race.
In addition to regular tickets, expensive (and lavish) packages are also available that can include special seating and amenities.
Is There a Dress Code?
There isn't a strictly enforced dress code, but it is a high class affair and an opportunity for men and women alike to showcase their fashion and style. What you wear can depend on where you're sitting or if you plan on betting big money, it can be fun to look the part.
Men tend to wear fancy suits that stand out or "pop". This can include loud, vibrant colors, unique hats and other accessories. Women often wear large hats, unique sunglasses and fancy dresses. It's part of the fun, as well as a homage to the way people dressed when the race first started back in 1875. For more details on , visit the official KD website.
Where Can I Watch the Race?
The Kentucky Derby is available just about everywhere, as it can be seen live on television and is streamed online, as well. Anyone can watch the race on TV, as it's aired on NBC, or they can also go to the event live in Louisville.
Can the Race Get Cancelled?
Perhaps, but it . The "race that always runs" will still go live no matter the weather or track conditions and has never been cancelled to this point in its history. The guidelines do suggest a delay if there is lightning, and its likely unforeseen situations could delay or postpone the event, but for the most part, it's the show that always goes on.
The fact that the it races no matter what the weather looks like is both reassuring and intense, as it can massively impact how bettors look at the potential outcome.
How Can I Bet on the Kentucky Derby?
Your betting options seem almost endless. You can bet using one of the many trusted betting sites we've pointed out, you can wager right on the Kentucky Derby website, you can place bets in person at Churchill Downs or you can make bets in Vegas.
There are plenty of venues to bet, but sometimes too many choices is a bad thing. You're good to go if you're in a trusted Vegas casino or at Churchill Downs, but when betting at a site online, make sure it's a site you can trust. If you're not sure, refer to our favorites above.
Who Will Win the Kentucky Derby?
A new Kentucky Derby winner is crowned every single year, so it's tough to say who will win too far ahead of the contest. Odds, expert analysis, past performances and course track records can play into picking the correct winner. The winner can often be the one horse that stands out above the rest as a legit threat at winning the entire Triple Crown.
What Are the Odds?
The odds are first released once horse racing experts and sportsbooks alike get a good idea of the horses that could potentially end up in the race. With a cap on 20 horses, Kentucky Derby odds are often released far ahead of the race in order to allow bettors to take a chance on horses that may or may not even eventually take part in the race.
The odds don't guarantee anything, but they do signify the outlook for each horse in the race, per Vegas. The better a horse's odds are, the more likely they are to fare well or even win the race. Odds can often be thrown out the window, of course, as the top favorite doesn't always win and it's also not rare to have a total upset come out of nowhere to steal first place.
What is the Fastest Time Ever Run?
Speed is key at the Kentucky Derby and the fastest horse ever to win is still Secretariat in 1973. Secretariat is widely regarded as one of the best horses of all-time, setting the time record (for that distance) of 1:59.4 (minutes). On top of its impressive time, Secretariat is also fondly remembered for winning the Triple Crown in 1973.
Who Has the Most Kentucky Derby Wins?
The Kentucky Derby has an impressive history with a few owners, trainers and jockeys working their way into the record books. Due to horses only running at age three and never again, there has never been a repeat winner when it comes to the actual animal.
While it'd be nice to see some of the more famous and dominant horses return to defend their title, we still get to see that happen with some of the best trainers, owners and jockeys playing a hand in the race every single year.
To date, the most dominant owners, trainers and jockeys all come from before the 1970's. For owners, the legendary Calumet Farm leads the way with 8 Kentucky Derby wins, while Ben A. Jones stands in as the most accomplished trainer at the Kentucky Derby (6 wins).
There have been a number of jockeys to enjoy repeat success at the Kentucky Derby, as well. Two that stand out above the rest are Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack (both with 5 wins).