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How to Bet the 2018 Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is the most popular betting race in the United States – not surprising given that the Derby is the one horse race nearly everyone can name.

Below, learn about the numerous opportunities for fans to support their favorite horse(s) in the Kentucky Derby!

Where to start betting?

Accessing our betting options with our free registration is where you will want to get started. By signing-up, you gain access to our race replays, handicapping products and most importantly; the ability to participate in our betting promos and bonuses!

For people who have never bet on a horse, it may seem too daunting to make a wager, especially with 20 horses likely to start. But it’s a fun way to have a little extra interest in the country’s most iconic horse race.

For people wanting to start early and possibly secure better odds now than at post time, the Kentucky Derby Future Wager is a good option. The bet is open during four different periods– usually in November, February, March, and April – as the Kentucky Derby prep races are being run. The KDFW itself is pari-mutuel, with Win and Exacta options offered. Fields for each installment of the KDFW are selected by a panel of racing experts and handicappers.

The final field for the Kentucky Derby is created as the barrier draw is completed by Wednesday afternoon of Derby week. Fans will have less than 48 hours to wait before the race is available for wagering at racetracks, simulcast centers and on Advanced Deposit Wagering platforms such as TwinSpires.com, official betting site of the Kentucky Derby.

Bet Types

Win: Bet on the horse you think you will win the Kentucky Derby.

Place: This bet gets you a return if your selection finishes first or second.

Show: Betting that your horse will finish first, second, or third.

Exacta: Predict the first two horses in the correct order.

Trifecta: Predict the first three horses in the correct order.

Superfecta: Predict the first four horses in the correct order.

Super High Five: Predict the first five horses in the correct order.

Special bets include a double on the Kentucky Oaks (May 5) and the Kentucky Derby (May 6), where players try to predict the winner of both races.

The Kentucky Derby is America’s most wagered-on horse race and presents numerous opportunities for life-changing scores. In addition to the traditional “straight” wagers (Win, Place, Show), fans can also attempt to cash big in the various “exotic” pools.  Exacta (first two), Trifecta (first three), Superfecta (first four), and Super High Five (first five) wagering are all offered, and cashing a ticket in any of these pools is a cause to brag as a maximum field of 20 makes the Derby a difficult handicapping puzzle.

We have more guides, tips and tricks for learning how to handicap in our free online betting guide library.
Alos, read through many of horse racing's betting terms.

Quick Betting Overview

There are many ways to handicap a horse race, and there is no shortage of opinions or angles when it comes to the handicapping the Kentucky Derby and the numerous prep races leading up to the Run for the Roses. From a beginners betting guide to the most sophisticated tools for informed handicappers, TwinSpires.com provides comprehensive pieces of information and betting guides to help you find the winners circle more often.

Handicapping horses and the races takes much time, research and intuition. Beyond studying past performance charts, speed figures, class ratings or jockey and trainer stats, a handicapper has to have insight and ability to find various ways to identify horses that are ready to win. You may not have time to study race videos, tracks, surfaces or find horses that had troubled trips in recent races. But it’s important to distill information that can help you identify horses that may offer some value next time out or others in good form or improving that can provide value wagering opportunities. 

Races and horses should be backed based on positive attributes and not as a result of who’s the best of the worst. As you study some of the betting guides and training tools offered at TwinSpires.com and some of the resources below, you’ll become better prepared and equipped to analyze races in a more meaningful way. Understanding ‘how’ a horse has run leading up to a race versus the far less important ‘where’ the horse finishes and ‘what’ time he/she completed their recent races will help you become more proficient.  

How to bet the Kentucky Derby on a budget

Bet Big In the 2018 Kentucky Derby With Just $50

You don’t think it’s possible do you? Well the beauty of horse racing is that there are a ton of ways to turn a little in to a lot, even with a normal amount of cash in hand. It may be called the Sport of Kings, but these days it’s a sport for everyone.

One of the big keys about the Kentucky Derby is that the favorite contender usually wins. That’s especially been true in the past few seasons. Some might say that this wasn’t the case in 2017 when Always Dreaming won with 5/1 odds over 4/1 favorite Classic Empire, but the latter was a suspect preference who had flaws and was only favored based on a wobbly reputation. The sharps targeted Always Dreaming rightfully. Either way, the odds were tight enough to keep the trend on track.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the cost conscious bettor might spend their money on Kentucky Derby day.

Straight Bet

The straight bet is the novices way in to horse betting. You can place wagers on horses to win outright, “place” in the top-two, or “show” in the top-three. As you hedge the wager, the payout gets reduced but this is a solid way to ensure that you at least get a payback.

With the 2018 rendition of the derby appearing to be a very close one amongst the top contenders, a place bet on the favorite is the safest way to play. The favorite has placed 1st or 2nd in five straight renewals. That being said, the win bet is far more satisfying though there’s more risk involved.

Exotic Bet – Exacta Box

What makes betting on horses so enthralling is the exotic bets, or the horse man’s version of a parlay. There’s too many varieties of bets to make here, but one of the best ones is called the “exacta box” and is my personal go-to. An exacta is when you declare the top two finishers in exact order. The “box” part of the bet means that your two horses can finish in any order which gives you a bit more forgiveness built in.

The payout is difficult to ascertain because it depends on the two horses that you’re betting on and their odds, but as mentioned earlier, the top horses on the board have been strangely reliable in recent years. Two years ago, the Kentucky Derby went chalk through the first five finishers.

You can absolutely explore other options that are a bit more expensive, but a heavy lean on an exacta box is a top level, introductory play for novice horse players. It’s also a mainstay for veterans of the track as well and might very well become your favorite bet at the track once you see it pay out in real life.

The Kentucky Derby Futures Wager

There are four windows throughout the year where bettors can get in on a futures market, and the final one is coming up soon between April 6th until April 8th. This is absolutely one of the best ways to get in on the derby early to maximize the potential of the odds. You could bet $50 on a 3/1 favorite to win $150…or you could bet on him very early for something like 6/1 to win $300.

The 2018 Kentucky Derby is as tight of a race as we’ve ever seen. Bolt d’Oro, who was the presumptive top choice heading in to the season, is listed at 7/1 in the futures market. McKinzie is another speedster who is getting significant action at 9/1. Strangely but curiously, Justify leads the board at 6/1 despite not having competed in a significant stakes race.

Plenty of other contenders are well within range. Noble Indy, for example, just won the 2018 Louisiana Derby and closed in the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager Pool 3 at a whopping 60/1. By the time Pool 4 opens, his odds will be much more respectable but there will still be value there for the bettor that sees him as a very strong play.

All told, this KDFW Pool 4 is where you get the best bang for your buck. Plus it takes the guess work and tension off of having to play a bet on the actual day. Sit back, grab a mint julep and wait for the bell to sound. 

Kentucky Derby Bet Contests

There will be a great betting contest taking place for some of the major players over the Derby carnival as well:

Kentucky Derby Betting Championship: Contestants put up $12,000, and have a pool of $8,000 to invest on Oaks day and Derby day. The winner gets a $100,000-plus prize.

In the past, there was the very popular Kentucky Derby Dream Bet:

Kentucky Derby Dream Bet: Timothy Steadman, the winner of a betting contest held on races in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, had a $10,000 win bet on the Derby courtesy of TwinSpires.com.

Kentucky Derby Betting 101 Video Series

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Kentucky Derby Betting Championship
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Free Tools for Kentucky Derby Bets
Kentucky Derby Promotions
Kentucky Derby Dream Bet
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TwinSpires.com makes it easy, and fun, to get a little extra excitement out of America’s greatest race. Good luck!