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How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby

Betting on the Kentucky Derby at Bovada

The eyes of the sports world will shift to Churchill Downs on Saturday afternoon for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby. Justify and Mendelssohn enter the week deadlocked atop the Kentucky Derby betting odds at +400, but with 20 horses expected to participate in this year’s Run for the Roses, there will be no shortage of wagering options available, even for the novice horse racing fans.


Kentucky Derby Straight Wagers

Win, place, and show bets, also known as straight wagers, are the most common bets in horse racing. A bet on a horse to win provides the biggest payout among straight bets, but also requires that the selected horse finishes first.

Making wagers on a horse to “place” or “show” provides you with more ways to cash in, but with a lower payout. A “place” bet means that the horse must finish either first or second for the wager to pay out, while a “show” bet requires the horse to finish first, second, or third for your bet to be declared a winner.


Kentucky Derby Exotic Bets

However, straight wagers are not the only options available to those considering betting on the Kentucky Derby. A wide variety of exotic bets can help you take your game to the next level, including exacta wagering, trifecta wagering, superfecta wagering, and boxed bets.

With an exacta wager, you can place a bet on which horses will finish first and second in a race. The catch is the horses must finish in the exact order determined on the bet. For example, if you placed an exacta wager that has Justify finishing first and Mendelssohn finishing second, the two horses must finish in that exact order for your bet to be a winner.

A trifecta wager enables you to pick the top three finishers in exact order with exponentially higher odds, while those daring enough to make a superfecta bet will be handsomely paid if they are able to pick the top four horses, in exact order of their finish.

Picking the exact order of finish in an exotic wager may seem like a daunting task, especially for bettors who are new to horse racing. But if you are convinced that your ponies are going to finish at the front of the pack, a boxed bet may be your best option.

Boxing a bet can take the guesswork out of picking the exact order of finish by enabling you to make multiple exotic bets on the same horses. For example, by boxing an exacta wager on Justify and Mendelssohn, you are making two bets, with a different horse picked to finish first on each bet.

A boxed trifecta follows the same principle, and is the same as making six trifecta bets covering all possible orders of finish among the three horses selected.

This means the amount of your wager will double with a boxed exacta, while boxing a trifecta wager covers six potential orders of finish among three horses, and increases the cost of a $2 trifecta wager sixfold to $12.

But with boxed wagers you can enjoy the race knowing that if your horses lead the way at the wire, you can look forward to a winning day at the track.


*Odds as of May 1, 2018

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