The Bettors Edge Kentucky Derby

Wagering on the Kentucky Derby

This upcoming Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs is the running of the 139th Kentucky Derby. The Crown Jewel of the Triple Crown horse racing season for 20 of the top three-year old thoroughbreds will be contested on a dirt track over the length of 1 ¼ miles. The total prize purse for this grade I stakes race is $2 million.

A Look at the Field

The Kentucky Derby is also the most heavily bet horse race of the year with millions of people with an even casual interest in horse racing wagering money on its outcome. A few of the early favorites for this year’s race include Verrazano, Orb and Revolutionary but the 20-horse field remains deep in talent with a second tier of strong contenders such as Goldencents, Normandy Invasion and Overanalyze. Taking things one step further, a third tier of horses that are more than capable of making some serious noise on Saturday includes Itsmyluckyday, Java’s War and Vyjack.

Develop a betting strategy

The easiest bet when it comes to this race is to pick a horse that you like and bet on him straight up to win. Given the quality of all the horses listed above along with a few others that I did not even mention, makes this betting strategy easier said than done. Avoid the temptation to go chalk by simply picking the favorite or even second or third favorite as their odds will not reflect their true value. The sheer amount of money wagered on this race from uninformed bettors always drives down the odds for the favorites especially as we get closer and closer to post time for the race.

Two of the best ways to try and cash-in on the Kentucky Derby is a boxed exacta play between two horses that you really like and taking your top pick and wheeling him in an exacta bet with a couple of other horses you think will round-out the top four places. In the first scenario you need both of your horses to finish 1-2 in any order and in the second, you need your top pick to win and just one of the other horses you included in the bet to finish second.

Making a pick

After following this entire field through the prep race season that started on Jan.1 and ran through mid-April, the two horses that continually caught my eye were Goldencents and Itsmyluckyday. Goldencents is coming off a victory in the Santa Anita Derby and should open as the fourth favorite on the morning line. Itsmyluckyday claimed victory earlier in the year in the Holy Bull Stakes and finished second to Orb in the Florida Derby. This colt should open as a mild longshot but still listed in the top 10 of the field. I am using these two in an exacta boxed as one of my stronger plays of the day.