The 2016 Kentucky Derby will mark the 142nd edition of the storied horse race at Churchill Downs, a 1 1/4-mile contest for three-year-olds that serves as the first leg of the Thoroughbred Triple Crown.
Held annually on the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby is the most celebrated event in horse racing, a defining achievement for every winning horse, owner, trainer and jockey. It takes approximately two minutes to compete under the famed Twin Spires.
The Kentucky Derby represents the one race that every casual fan knows. More people are watching and wagering upon the Kentucky Derby nationally by a wide margin, and its popularity attracts an enormous crowd, with a record 170,513 spectators in 2015.
Known as the Run for the Roses, for the garland presented to the winner, the Kentucky Derby rates as one of the world’s great sporting events – the longest continuously-run horse race in the United States.
The likelihood of a 20-horse field, the maximum allowed in the starting gate, makes for a challenging handicapping equation. Horses ship to Louisville, Kentucky from all regions of the country, as well as the occasional international invader, and bettors must account for a multitude of variables, including pace, run style and the propensity for improving or declining form.
Horse racing enthusiasts start to scout hopefuls as soon as the horses cross the Kentucky Derby finish line, but the build-up officially begins in September, with the first of 35 prep races in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series. The conversation picks up steam after the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in late fall, and the winter months are filled with early predictions for emerging contenders.
Despite its highly-scrutinized nature, the Kentucky Derby is never easy to figure and always offers value in the betting pools.
Massive longshots Mine That Bird (paid $103.20 to win) and Giacomo ($102.60) have proved successful during the last decade and even though post-time favorites California Chrome and Orb rewarded backers with victories the past two years, overlooked horses (Commanding Curve at 37-1 and Golden Soul at 34-1) filled the second slot each time, generating lucrative exotic payoffs.