The Kentucky Derby is an American tradition for serious horse racing fans and casual viewers alike. Every year, the entire country pauses to watch the most exciting two minutes in sports as the world’s most promising three-year-old thoroughbreds compete for the highest accolade in horse racing.
As the tradition holds, the Derby will be run at the renowned Churchill Downs in Kentucky.
Horse racing betting sites are beginning to publish the betting odds and announce Kentucky Derby promotions designed to reward bettors on the biggest racing event in North America.
Best Kentucky Derby Promotions
Horse racing betting sites always ramp up their promotional offerings when the Kentucky Derby comes to town. Here’s a look at what each of the main horse racing sites has on offer this year.
Once again, the effort of three years’ worth of work for twenty horse racing teams will culminate in a single, two-minute race. Whoever wins the Kentucky Derby will not only have achieved one of the highest honors in the sport but will also become the new subject of speculation regarding the possibility of becoming a Triple Crown winner.
This is also the time of year that horse racing betting really ramps up in volume. The Kentucky Derby is unique in that it manages to catch the attention of people who may only think about horse racing in passing once or twice a year.
The post position drawing will give us the final list of runners and their positions.
Today’s guide to betting on the Kentucky Derby is geared for those of you who don’t have a ticket to the races. We’re going to be discussing everything you need to know about getting started, picking your horse, and placing bets.
Kentucky Derby online betting is perfectly legal at licensed horse racing betting sites in the US and abroad.
Where to Bet on the Kentucky Derby Online
Those lucky enough to attend the Kentucky Derby in person are far from the only people who will be betting on the race this year.
You will have the best experience by placing your wagers at sites that are experienced in horse racing and trusted by real customers. There are plenty of other Kentucky Derby betting sites out there that are perfectly safe and legitimate, but there are also a lot of amateur operations.
Thankfully, online horse racing betting enjoys legal status in most places from which visitors of OnlineBettingSites.com originate. This means you can place your bets at websites that hold legitimate licenses to offer real money bets on horse races. It is always best to do business with licensed racebooks whenever possible.
The best website to bet on the Kentucky Derby is different if you live in the United States versus anywhere else in the world, so we’ll tackle this subject in two stages. Let’s begin with our horse racing fans in the USA.
Kentucky Derby Betting Sites
If you live in the United States:
TVG, TwinSpires, and AMWager are all great options because each is licensed in the states they accept bets, headquartered in the United States, and operate in full compliance with the law.
What’s more, these racebooks all have contracts with most major racetracks that allow them to pool all wagers taken online with wagers placed in-person at the track.
This means you get paid at full track odds as if you had placed your bets at the track. The money people wager online also helps to fund racetracks and racing teams, which in turn fuels the horse racing industry.
Betting with Legal US Racebooks
There are three major advantages to betting at a site such as TVG or TwinSpires that is licensed in the USA:
- 100% Legal: Unlike other forms of online betting, horse racing does not operate in murky legal waters. When you bet at a licensed racebook, there are absolutely no questions that it is 100% legal.
- Based in the USA: It’s nice doing business with sites that are based in the USA because you know they must adhere to US law and there is legal recourse if something goes wrong. You also get all the benefits of knowing these sites are regulated and monitored by local licensing authorities.
- Paid at full track odds: One of the best things about betting at licensed US racebooks is that all wagers taken online are pooled with the wagers taken at the track. This creates bigger betting pools and also ensures that you will be paid at full track odds – the same as if you would have placed the bet in-person at the track.
- Easy deposits and withdrawals: Because these sites are legal and licensed, financial firms are not afraid to work with them in order to process transactions for customers. Thus, it is much faster and easier to make deposits and receive withdrawals at US-licensed sites than it is at offshore sportsbooks.***
Kentucky Derby Betting Sites for Everyone Else
All the major betting sites licensed in the UK, Europe and elsewhere offer Kentucky Derby betting and have already posted early antepost (futures) odds. You can book your early bets starting today or wait until a little closer to race day to get the fixed-odds prices once the final starting lineup has been selected.
Our readers who live in the rest of the world have many more options as far as choosing where to bet online. Bet365 and William Hill are just a few of the many dozens of licensed, reputable, and safe betting apps our international readers have at their disposal.
In fact, those are my top picks for anyone interested in betting on the Kentucky Derby from anywhere outside the United States. These racebooks hold licenses from the demanding UK Gambling Commission but are authorized to take wagers from many other countries as well.
More importantly, each one of them has been in business for years (even decades in some cases) and is held in high esteem by punters. You can ask almost anyone from the UK about these sites and the odds are they will tell you all three are excellent choices.
Reputation is the single most important factor to consider – even beyond betting odds, promotions and anything else on offer.
Additionally, horse betting sites licensed by legitimate regulators are good about protecting your information, keeping your money safe and offering deposit and payout methods that are fast and reliable.
Doing business with one of these sites will have you spending less time dealing with the deposit process and more time backing your favorite horses.
Tote betting is not available online outside the United States and all Kentucky Derby bets you place will be of the fixed-odds nature. This means that instead of your bet being mingled with wagers taken at the track, you will be betting directly with your betting site.
Typically, a lack of pools betting would be a disadvantage, but almost every major betting site now offers a best odds guarantee which states that if you take the fixed odds price but your horse goes off at a higher starting price, you get paid at the higher price. One thing to keep in mind, however, is the best odds guarantees only apply to pre-race fixed odds bet and not the antepost markets.
Kentucky Derby Betting Odds
Early Kentucky Derby odds have been released by major international betting sites. The actual prices will be released much closer to the race.
After the post position draw, we’ll start seeing fixed-odds prices coming in and many horses’ prices will drop once there is less competition. In the meantime, these are the prices you can get today on all Kentucky Derby hopefuls.
Churchill Downs has not yet released the official ante-post odds, but various racebooks and ADW’s have already started accepting futures wagers on the winning horse.
How Kentucky Derby Betting Odds Work
There are two ways to bet on the Kentucky Derby each year. One option is the ante post bet, which is what you’ll be seeing posted most often right now during the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby. These are simple fixed odds bets that work like any other sporting event.
When you book an ante post bet, that is exactly how much you will be paid no matter what else happens. It doesn’t matter if more bets come in and change the odds later – your ante post odds are locked in.
The other option is to place parimutuel bets the day of the big race. What makes parimutuel wagers different is that they remain in a constant state of flux until the moment the race begins.
The payout odds are determined by the number of wagers booked on each horse. As new wagers come in, the odds move up and down. You can read more about parimutuel wagering and other types of racing bets in our basic horse racing betting guide.***
Predicting the Winner
Predicting the winner of the Kentucky Derby is a tall order for anyone, most especially for someone like myself who enjoys a good race but is far from an expert.
Getting Started and Placing Your First Bet
Now that you’ve chosen a place to bet on the Kentucky Derby online, it’s time to get to the fun stuff. The first step is to visit the website of your choice and sign up for an account.
You’ll be asked for your name, address and other “know your customer” verification details that are required by regulators.
The next step is to fund your account. If you log in and visit the “deposit” link at the top of the page, you’ll see a list of accepted deposit methods. The easiest funding method for most people is bank transfers and ewallets.
All the major horse racing sites accept a variety of other deposit options in addition to credit. Depending on where you play and your location, you may be able to deposit with an eCheck, prepaid gift card, Neteller, Skrill or cash transfer. Instructions are provided on-screen to walk you through the whole process.
Now that you have a real-money account, it’s time to place your first bet.
If you’re familiar with the mechanics of horse racing, you won’t have any problems. All the same types of wagers that you would normally place in-person at the track will also be presented online in the same format.
If you’re not experienced with horse racing, that’s OK too.
Many people get their first taste of racing betting with a quick wager on the Kentucky Derby. General wisdom says its best to start with a simple type of wager such as regular “Win,” “Place” and “Show” bets. Each of these is straightforward in its application and offers enough of a payout to get the heart racing.
The straight-up Win bet is the simplest of them all. In this wager, all you do is pick a horse and choose an amount to bet. You win the bet if your horse comes in first place.
The Place and Show bets work in a similar manner but give you more leeway. A Place bet wins if your pick ends up taking first or second place. A Show bet wins if your horse takes any of the top three spots in the race.
- Win: You pick one horse and win the bet if that horse finishes in 1st place
- Place: You pick one horse and win the bet if that horse finishes in 1st or 2nd place
- Show: You pick one horse and win the bet if that horse finishes in 1st, 2nd or 3rd
The List of Runners
A large part of the buildup to the Kentucky Derby each year is the selection of twenty horses to start the race. This year’s runners are now official and most racebooks have already started taking bets on the race.
Here’s a quick look at this year’s anticipated runners and projected odds.
The main thing to keep in mind is that these odds are subject to change. Horse racing tracks calculate the payout odds based on incoming bets on each horse. These bets are fairly representative of what you can expect, but keep that in mind.
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.