The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is the horse racing event of the year for many bettors – and betting on Kentucky Derby is always better when you know what you’re doing.
Famously known as the fastest two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby can represent a great way to make a bit of extra money on the side or at least have lots of fun. There are more than 20 horses to choose from and a wide variety of ways to place a bet.
In this article, our team of horse racing betting experts will guide you through everything you need to know about betting on the Kentucky Derby.
We’ll be taking a look at the types of bets you can place, the mistakes you need to avoid, as well as some of the best horse racing betting sites like BetOnline where you can place your bets.
How to Bet On the Kentucky Derby
The best way to bet on the Kentucky Derby is to join a sportsbook that specializes in horse race betting. That way, you can take advantage of great odds, lots of markets, as well as brilliant bonuses.
One such sportsbook is BetOnline, and below we’ll guide you through on how to create an account here and place your Kentucky Derby bets.
- Click “JOIN”
Follow this link to open BetOnline and click the green “JOIN” button.
- Complete the Form
You only need to complete one form when signing up to BetOnline. Information you need to enter includes your first and last name, a valid email address, your mobile number, and zip code.
- Click “Create Account”
Once you’ve done this, simply click the “Create Account” button to launch your account – you’re now free to pop over to the “Cashier” section of BetOnline, link a payment method and make a first deposit.
Best Kentucky Derby Betting Sites
- BetOnline: Best overall
- Bovada: Best show bets odds
- BUSR: Best welcome bonus
- MyBookie: Best VIP program
- EveryGame: Top pick for exotica wagers
- XBet: Best for mobile betting
- Thunderpick: Best user interface
- MyStake: Top pick for crypto betting
- BetUS: Offers free picks and predictions
- SportsBetting.ag: Horse racing contests
Heads up about our links! Adblock might get confused so please disable it if you have any issues
We have created our list after putting 50 sportsbooks that offer Kentucky Derby betting odds head-to-head in order to compare the odds between them, their betting interface, ease of registration, and payout speed.
Kentucky Derby Betting Trends
The most successful horse racing bettors are those who look out for Kentucky Derby betting trends.
They look at past events to see if there are patterns that can give them insights into what might happen at the next Derby.
For example, a major Kentucky Derby trend is that more than 70% of winners since the Derby was created were Chestnut or Bay-coloured horses.
If you look more closely, 55% of winners were Bay-colored horses.
It’s a staggering statistic, and it means that it’s highly likely that the next winner at the Kentucky Derby will be either a Bay or a Chestnut-coloured horse.
Another key trend to watch out for that is the favorite wins sometimes at Churchill Downs – but certainly not all the time.
In fact, the win percentage for the favorite at the Derby since 1980 is just 19% – which is less than average compared to other races around the world.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that, generally speaking, the race winner has won a prep race in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby. So if you’ve got a hunch about a horse that hasn’t won any of its prep races, you might want to rethink your bet.
Suggested Reading: UK horse racing betting sites
Betting on the Kentucky Derby: Types of Bets You Can Place
While some bettors prefer to just bet on a single horse to win the Kentucky Derby, there are actually different ways you can bet on this key horse racing event.
A win bet is the easiest bet you can place at the Kentucky Derby and all other horse racing events. All you’re doing is backing the horse you think will win the race. Nothing further needs to happen – as long as your horse wins, you win your bet.
A place bet is a popular “hedge” bet that allows you some room for maneuvering if your horse doesn’t win the race.
This is because with a place bet, your horse can finish first or second, and you will still win the bet.
Place bets naturally come with worse odds than a win bet, but they’re ideal for if you’re not super duper confident that your horse will finish first. They also come in very handy for whenever there’s a photo finish between the top two horses – and yours loses out.
A show bet is the third type of standard wager you can place (win bets, place bets and show bets are traditionally seen as standard wagers in horse race betting).
With a show bet, you get to hedge your bets even more because your horse can finish first, second, or third.
Once again, the odds are slashed drastically for a show bet because there’s not as much risk involved as there is with a win bet.
What’s more, when you place a show bet, your stake will automatically increase on your bet slip.
An exacta bet is a type of exotica wager you can place at horse racing events like the Kentucky Derby. Like all exotica wagers, it involves more than one horse (multiple horses).
With an exacta bet, you’re predicting which horses will finish first and second – and in order for your bet to win, they must finish in that exact order.
In other words, if you pick Horse A to finish first and Horse B to finish second, but Horse B finishes first, and Horse A finishes second, you will lose your bet.
This is a tricky bet to pull off, but it can yield huge potential profits. It’s also used by expert horse racing bettors who have studied the form of the participants at the Kentucky Derby.
The Quinella bet is available at some top-rated online sportsbooks for the Kentucky Derby, but you may need to do some shopping around to find betting sites that will take this wager.
It works a lot like the exacta bet in that you need to pick two horses you think will finish first and second. The difference is that it actually doesn’t matter which order they finish in.
For instance, if you’ve chosen Horse A to finish first and Horse B to finish second, your bet will still win if Horse B finishes first and Horse A finishes second.
The trifecta bet is a less common exotica wager than the exacta bet because it’s even harder to get right. Instead of predicting who’ll finish first and second, you must predict who’ll finish first, second, and third. In other words, you’re wagering on three horses.
A trifecta bet is usually left in the hands of betting pros who have been betting on horses at the Kentucky Derby for years and years. Even then, most people are unlucky with this bet type.
On the flip side, the trifecta bet is still used by some bettors because it promises such a high payout.
Some online sportsbooks and betting sites will let you “box” your trifecta bet to make your life a little bit easier. Boxing your bet means that it doesn’t matter which of your horses finishes first, second, or third as long as all 3 finish in the top three.
Boxing your bet does, of course, mean a reduced payout.
The superfecta bet is almost always only used by the absolute horse race betting experts who think they can confidently predict the exact outcome of the top four horses.
That said, because you can place a minimum 10 cents bet, the superfecta bet is still a lot of fun for anyone who wants to try their luck.
Essentially, you must predict the exact top four finishers at the end of the race. As you can imagine, the payoff for this can be huge, with betting sites offering massive odds. It’s almost an impossible bet to pull off – but why not have a go for small stakes?
Super High 5
We’re getting a bit silly now, but it’s true – a lot of betting sites let you bet on the exact order of the top 5 horses at the Kentucky Derby.
Do you need a crystal ball for this one?
But with a mega jackpot prize lying in store for anyone who nails this bet, the Super High 5 continues to be popular on race day.
Mistakes To Avoid When Placing Kentucky Derby Wagers
The sheer thrill of the Kentucky Derby means that, win or lose, it’s always fun either way.
But if you truly want to make bank betting on the Derby and you don’t want to lose your cool, here are some key mistakes to avoid:
Joining the Wrong Betting Site
Some betting sites specialize in horse race betting, which means they treat you to the best odds, bonuses, and rebates.
Others, on the other hand, try to rob you blind by offering poor odds that ultimately mean you lose out even if you win.
Before you start betting on the Kentucky Derby, make sure to join a horse race betting site – such as BetOnline – that has what you need in terms of the odds, the markets, and the bonuses.
Always Backing the Favorite With Big Money
While the favorite is always the favorite for a reason at the Kentucky Derby and other horse racing events, wagering your entire bankroll on it is never a good idea.
Because the favorite doesn’t always win.
In fact, stats show that the favorite only wins 30% of the time at the most – which is the equivalent of 1 in 3.5 races. This means for every race that the favorite wins, there are 2 races it won’t win.
So while you could back the favorite by all means at the Derby, going all-in can be a costly mistake.
Betting More Than You Can Afford to Lose
We’ve all been there. We’ve all been given a “red hot” horse race betting tip that simply “can’t lose.”
So what happens is that we inevitably stake way more than is good for us on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What happens? The horse loses.
The problem for some bettors is that the Kentucky Derby only comes around once a year. This means they get a bit giddy and wager more than they really should on that one horse that “should” win.
If this is you, our advice is to – don’t do it. Stay in control and only bet what you know you can afford to lose. Don’t get tempted by the promise of getting rich off the back of one horse that may or may not triumph.
Not Listening to Advice From The Experts
There’s a cynical school of thought that the so-called “experts” work for sports betting sites – which means they actually want you to lose. As such, they always tip horses they know won’t win.
This actually isn’t true at all.
A worse idea is to ignore the expert advice and go your own way – especially if you’re a total beginner.
Experts – which you can find on podcasts and social media – have credibility. They’ve probably watched more horse races than you’ve had hot dinners, and they know what they’re talking about. So stay humble and at least hear them out.
Related: Grand National betting odds
Why is BetOnline the Best Site to Bet On the Kentucky Derby?
Hugely reputable: BetOnline has been serving racing fans for more than 25 years, who enjoy its fast and reliable payouts, its early market odds, as well as its ease of use.
Daily horse rebates: BetOnline offers as much as 9% daily horse race betting rebates. This means any time you bet on the Kentucky Derby, you will be eligible for a rebate if your horse finishes outside the top 3.
Tip-top welcome bonus: At BetOnline, you can get in the mood for Kentucky Derby Day with a 50% welcome bonus that’s worth up to $1,000.
Competitive odds: Not only does BetOnline release their markets early for the Kentucky Derby contenders, but they’re also home to some of the best odds in the industry. You can also bet on prep races here and take advantage of more great odds.
Why Bet on the Kentucky Derby Online?
It’s safe and secure: Betting on horse races online has never been safer, with all the best sportsbooks home to high-level security measures that keep your details safe. What’s more, top racing betting sites like BetOnline and MyBookie are fully licensed and regulated.
You get to compare odds: From morning line odds to the odds that are available just before the Kentucky Derby starts, the beauty of betting on horse races online is that you can easily compare the odds on offer at different sportsbooks. This then guarantees that you’ll always be able to place your bet at the best price available.
You can cash out your bet: Let’s say you placed your bet way before Kentucky Derby Day – but you’ve since changed your mind. If you bet online, you can cash out your bet whenever you want and swap your horse for something else.
Best Bonuses You Can Claim at Kentucky Derby Betting Sites
Sign-up with BetOnline today and make a $55+ first deposit in order to claim the 50% up to $1,000 matched deposit bonus. You’ll need to enter the promo code “BOL1000” when prompted.
Bovada is currently offering new customers a 75% matched deposit offer that’s worth as much as $750 when you make a minimum deposit of $20. You will have to use crypto to deposit, though.
If you bet on the Derby and any other horse race at BUSR, you’ll be eligible for rebates worth up to $2,000. These are available every single day, with BUSR refunding you a percentage of your day’s losses.
When you create an account at MyBookie and make a $50 (or greater) first deposit, you can opt-in to their $1,000 welcome bonus. This is a 50% matched deposit offer, and you need to enter the code “MYB50” to redeem it.
EveryGame is currently offering a welcome bonus worth up to $150 that covers your first three deposits. Each deposit is worth $50, and it’s up to you whether you want to opt-in once, twice, or all three times.
Kentucky Derby History
The inaugural Kentucky Derby launched in 1872 at Churchill Downs – and it’s since become such a cornerstone of American sports that, for many, the Kentucky Derby is the most prestigious American sporting event of them all.
By the time the Second World War came around, the Kentucky Derby was still seen as a way of escaping what was going on in the wider world, with 65,000 people packed into Churchill Downs in 1943 to watch that year’s Derby.
By 1949, the Kentucky Derby was shown on the local telecast for the first ever time, while three years later, it was broadcast on national TV. This meant more coverage, more interest, a higher purse – and more wagering.
Indeed, by 1954, the winning horse scooped over $100,000 in prize money.
In 1968, the controversy came to the Kentucky Derby, with bettors left flummoxed when Dancer’s Image won the Derby only to be later disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance.
Fast-forward to 1973, and anyone who bet on Secretariat was left jumping for joy after it posted the fastest-ever Derby time.
Into the eighties, horse race betting had advanced enough so that live wagering was introduced in 1984, thanks to the fact that the race was simulcasted at 24 US tracks. As such, a new wagering record was set in North America, with bookmakers collectively accepting almost $19,000,000 on the Kentucky Derby.
Such vast amounts of money being wagered alongside increased coverage meant that the 1985 purse for the winning horse rocketed to a cool $1,000,000.
By 2012, betting interest in the Kentucky Derby had increased so much that a staggering $133,000,000 was wagered collectively on the Derby. What’s more, Churchill Downs was by now able to accommodate more spectators, with 165,307 passing through the gates that same year (a new record).
Guide to Betting on the Kentucky Derby
What are Kentucky Derby Prep Races?
A prep race for the Kentucky Derby is a series of races that determine which horses will qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
They take place each year, and by following them, you can get a better understanding of who the Kentucky Derby winner might be.
What are Morning Line Odds?
Morning line odds are determined by expert handicappers for online bookmakers who use implied probability to set their lines.
As the day goes along and bettors start to place their bets, the odds will change accordingly. For example, a horse’s price will shorten if it starts to attract lots of bets.
What Other Horse Races Can I Bet On?
All the top online bookies like BetOnline and BUSR let you bet on horse races all week long. As well as the major races like the Kentucky Derby and the Grand National (UK), you can bet on horse races all across the US, Australia, Mexico, the UK, France, and more.
Tips For Betting On The Kentucky Derby
Our team of experienced horse race bettors have been wagering on the action at Churchill Downs for well over a decade. Here, they share their top tips for betting on Derby Day online:
Sign-Up To a Range of Sportsbooks
The idea is that the more betting sites you join, the more you’ll be able to take advantage of the best odds.
This is because each betting site offers slightly different odds for each horse, which means there will always be one betting site that offers the absolute best price. It, therefore, figures that when you sign up to different sites, you can shop around until you get the best price.
When signing up for a sportsbook, make sure that it’s committed to horse race betting – for example, it covers all the major races, it lets you place exotica bets, and it offers rebates. Two such sportsbooks are BetOnline and BUSR.
Grab the Deposit Bonuses
Just after you sign-up to a betting site, you can claim their welcome bonus by making a qualifying deposit. A welcome bonus usually takes the form of a matched deposit offer, and you can use your bonus funds on your first bet at the Kentucky Derby.
It’s important that you read the welcome bonus T&Cs because if you don’t meet the qualifying deposit, you will miss out on the offer.
Place a Show Bet
With a show bet, you’re betting on which horses will come first, second and third. But while this type of bet is tricky to nail, it requires a smaller stake for a huge potential payout.
What’s more, show bets have the highest percentage win, which means they’re worth placing alongside other wagers.
Listen to the Expert Picks
While even the best tipsters aren’t psychics, they’re tipsters for a reason. And that reason is that they’ve been doing this for years and years, they know things you don’t, and they have a lot of expert picks that they get right.
By all means, place bets of your own. But make sure to lend an ear to the experts who are ready to give you their best betting advice.
Follow the Latest Betting News
Bookmakers like MyBookie keep you in the loop with all the latest news for Kentucky Derby betting, including the form of the horses, the results of the prep races, as well as expert predictions.
It’s well worth reading up on all the latest news – including who’s backing which horse – as this can give you a bigger indication of who’s going to triumph at Churchill Downs.
Check out the best sports betting sites by state:
- Montana sports betting
- Kentucky betting sites
- Tennessee sports betting apps
- Mississippi sports betting sites
- Best sports betting sites in Texas
- Louisiana sports betting
- Best Colorado online sportsbooks
- Sports betting in New Mexico
Ready for Some Kentucky Derby Betting Action?
Kentucky Derby Day is almost upon us. It’s always a lot of fun – but it’s even better when you sign up to a top-rated horse race betting site like BetOnline, which gets you started with a $1,000 welcome bonus.
Use the tips and tricks in this article to help you pick out a winner. Make sure to listen to expert advice, don’t get fixated on an odds-on favorite, and consider placing an exotica bet for a big potential jackpot win.
Whether your chosen horse wins or loses, the most important thing is that you have fun. We, therefore, remind you to always gamble responsibly.
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