Explaining the Different Types of Kentucky Derby Bets

By Jerry Summer in Kentucky Derby
| August 28, 2020 4:35 am PDT
2020 Kentucky Derby Bets Explained

The Kentucky Derby is one of the oldest and most popular horse races in the United States. It attracts the attention of fans from all over the globe and most of them are looking to make some money by betting on the event.

Bookmakers and sportsbooks are more than happy to oblige and they offer plenty of different betting options, especially online. In fact, there are so many Kentucky Derby betting markets available on the internet that it might get slightly confusing for people who have limited experience in gambling on horse racing.

In this you’ll find all the main Kentucky Derby bets explained in detail, so you will know your betting options if you decide to give it a shot.

Before I get into that, let me provide a list of the best Kentucky Derby betting sites for those of you who are simply looking for a place to bet online.

Our top-rated Kentucky Derby betting sites are secure, offer high odds for the race, and have various other perks like juicy promotions, fast payouts, and mobile betting.

If you decide to join them, you will have the opportunity to place real money wagers on various betting markets. Let’s take a look at them and see how each works.

Traditional Kentucky Derby Betting Markets

Let’s begin with explaining the traditional Kentucky Derby bets that are not much different from the betting options you can find for every horse race.

Race Winner

The race winner is the popular Kentucky Derby wager that’s available in every racebook that offers odds on the competition. You simply pick one of the horses and place a wager that it will finish first in the race.

If the horse wins the Kentucky Derby, your wager is successful, as simple as that. There are no complicated conditions here which is why so many people love this wager.

Here’s an example of Kentucky Derby odds for the outright winner. These are from the 2020 race.

Place and Show Wagers

Place and show wagers are lower risk wagers that come with a greater chance of winning but reduced payouts. With a place wager, you’re betting on your chosen horse to finish in the top two positions. With a show wager, you’re betting on your chosen horse to finish in the top three positions.

These wagers are especially good options if you want to back an outsider to do well, but don’t necessarily believe it will win the race.

Across the Board Wager

An across the board wager combines three bet into one. It’s a win bet, a place bet, and a show bet all on the same ticket.

If your chosen horse wins, you’ll get a payout for all three components of the wager. If your chosen horse finishes second, you’ll win on the place and show components. If it finishes third, you just win the show component.

This is another good option if backing outsiders. It comes with the chance of a very good payoff if your selection manages to win, while still paying out for a second or third place finish. You could also consider this option for backing one of the favorites if you want a bit of “insurance” should it fail to win but still finish in the top positions.

Note that in some parts of the world, bookmakers and betting sites offer what’s called an each-way option. This is similar to the across the board wager, but the wager is divided into just two parts. The first part is for the horse to win, the second part is for the horse to finish “in the places.” This usually means in the top three.

Exotic Wagers

I’ve decided to group up these Kentucky Derby markets because the principle behind them is the same. You place a wager on multiple horses to all finish in the top positions.

The most popular exotic wager for the Kentucky Derby is the exacta. Here, you have to correctly predict the top two horses in the exact order.

With a trifecta or a superfecta, you have to successfully pick the top three and top four horses respectively. Again, you need to get the exact order correct.

The payouts you could get for any of these wagers can be very high, but they’re hard to win. They are an excellent choice if you are looking for a fun bet with a small stake and a large potential return.

The terms exacta and trifecta can be replaced by forecast and tricast in some betting sites. They represent the same Kentucky Derby wagers, they’re just different terms.

You could also go for the quinella, which is easier to win. Here you select two horses again, but you’re backing them to finish in the top two positions in any order.

Kentucky Derby Props Explained

Most of the betting markets I mentioned so far are available for any race. Since the Kentucky Derby is not any race, there are plenty of special wagers you can find. They are called props and they open the door to some exciting opportunities that a lot of people underestimate.

Let’s take a look at the most popular types of Kentucky Derby props and how they work.

Winner Props

There are plenty of props related to the Kentucky Derby winner. For example, you can often place a wager on the first letter of the winner’s name or on the number of words in the winner’s name.

On the surface, these markets seem random and entirely luck-dependent, but that’s not always the case. If you are willing to back a certain horse to win the Kentucky Derby, it might be a good idea to check the winner props before you go for the traditional race winner option.

If the horse’s name consists of three words, for example, it might be better to go for this market instead. The price could be slightly worse, but it’s possible that there are other horses with three words in their name that have a legitimate shot at winning the Kentucky Derby. That gives you a couple of more potential winners at a small cost.

Here are several examples of winner props offered for the race.

  • First letter of the winner’s name
  • Number of words in the winner’s name
  • Starting gate of the winner

Time Props

We know that Secretariat holds the Kentucky Derby record but nothing lasts forever. Some betting sites will offer odds on whether the time of the legendary horse will be beaten. There are also wagers on the winner’s finishing time and the time for the opening quarter, the first half mile, or more.

The principle behind them is usually the same. The bookmaker sets a line and you can bet on whether the time will be above or below that value.

Trainer and Jockey Props

You can also bet on certain outcomes relating to the trainers and jockeys at the Kentucky Derby. For example, you can place a wager on the age of the jockey or the trainer of the winning horse.

Once again, the racebook sets an over/under line for that purpose.

More Props

You could often find even more props on the Kentucky Derby and they can be related to anything. The bookmakers usually explain how each market works and it’s relatively easy to understand the concept behind it.

And yet, there might be an exception. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to talk to the support and ask for additional details.

Final Words

I hope that the Kentucky Derby bets explained here can help you make good decisions when betting on the race. The good news is that most of them are available other popular races that run regularly.

If you are interested in some tips on those races, I encourage you to check the latest picks of our experts. They cover plenty of events throughout the year, so there’s a constant stream of betting previews with recommended wagers.

Coming back to the Kentucky Derby specifically, you might also be interested to read my post on how to bet on the Kentucky Derby online.

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