2024 Kentucky Derby Betting Guide: Analysis, Tips & Trends

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Last updated: April 17, 2024 at 4:42 p.m. EDT

How to Bet the 2024 Kentucky Derby

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

For people who have never bet on a horse, selecting a single standout could prove too daunting to make a single straight win wager. Especially with 20 horses likely to start. But as a game, the sport of horse racing presents a fun way to build a little extra interest for the country’s iconic horse race - with a wager. Let TwinSpires, and our authoritative experts, help you cash tickets as you join the rest of the country in celebrating this moment of Americana.


A key betting strategy for Kentucky Derby 150

I will take aim at the trifecta this year, with so many contenders in the cast that I think can finish in the top-three. The first strategy will be to key my top three picks on top, with that trio combined with my longshots in the second slot, and ending with the ‘all’ button on the bottom. 

Follow all analysis and picks by John Mucciolo here.

John Mucciolo is one of TwinSpires' exclusive expert racing analysts who regularly provides sound handicapping strategies and expert picks for horse racing betting all year. Mucciolo has consistently punted well in the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby for decades. Read Mucciolo's early thoughts on who will be the Kentucky Derby favorites and potential long-shots following the conclusion of the Road to the Kentucky Derby!

 

Top Picks

John Mucciolo's 
early Kentucky Derby Favorites

1) Catching Freedom

2) Sierra Leone

3) Resilience

Top Longshots

John Mucciolo's 
early Kentucky Derby Longshots

1) Honor Marie

2) Track Phantom

3) Just Steel

Best Trifecta Bet

I will key my trio on top, with ‘all’ in the second spot, and using my top three picks combined with my trio of longshots for the show. 

3 x 6 x 18

3 x 18 x 6


J. Keeler Johnson

A key betting strategy for Kentucky Derby 150

If Fierceness brings his A-game, he'll be mighty tough to beat. But consistency hasn't been his strong suit. I plan on betting a pair of Kentucky Derby trifectas: one with Fierceness on top, Sierra Leone in second, and several others (including Catching Freedom and my top longshots) in third, and the other playing Sierra Leone on top while leaving out Fierceness entirely.

Follow all analysis and picks by Keeler Johnson here.

J. Keeler Johnson is one of TwinSpires' preferred expert racing analysts who regularly provides analysis and insight for picks and ongoing education on strategies for horse racing betting all year. Keeler has consistently tracked contenders along the Road to the Kentucky Okas or Kentucky Derby. 

 

Top Picks

Keeler Johnson's
early Kentucky Derby Favorites

1) Fierceness

2) Sierra Leone

3) Catching Freedom

Top Longshots

Keeler Johnson's
early Kentucky Derby Longshots

1) T O Password

2) Domesetic Product

3) Honor Marie


How do you bet on the Derby?

Here are details on the process for becoming registered, funding and bet building in our TwinSpires betting program.

1) Getting started

If you are wondering where to start with how to place bets on the Kentucky Derby, accessing our betting options at TwinSpires with our free registration is where you will want to get started.

By signing-up, you gain access to our race replays, handicapping products, live horse racing streaming video and most importantly; the ability to participate in our betting promos and bonuses!

2) Early betting

For people wanting to start early and possibly secure better odds now, than when horses enter the starting gate at post time, the Kentucky Derby Future Wager is a great option.

The future bet is traditionally open during four different periods– usually in November, February, March, and April –as the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races are running.

The KDFW itself is pari-mutuel, offering Win and Exacta options for fields in each installment. The offerings are selected by a panel of racing experts and handicappers.

3) Derby week options

The final field of entries for the Kentucky Derby is completed by Monday or Tuesday afternoon of Derby week during the post-position or barrier draw.

Fans won't have to wait too long before the race is available for wagering at racetracks, smart phone mobile apps, simulcast centers, Off Track Betting facilities and on Advanced Deposit Wagering platforms - such as TwinSpires.com, the only official betting site of the Kentucky Derby.

Advance wagering becomes available close to 24 hours prior. Typically Thursday morning for Kentucky Oaks day and Friday morning for Kentucky Derby day.

4) Placing a bet online or on your mobile device

  1. Register or Log-In (be sure to check for Kentucky Derby week offers!)
  2. Select the track of Churchill Downs
  3. Select the race number of the Kentucky Derby (usually the second to last race on the card)
  4. Select your horse by name or saddle cloth post position
  5. Select wager type of straight, exotic, pick 'n'
  6. Enter your dollar amount of designated bet minimums
  7. Submit your bet slip!

Betting with iOS

Betting with Android

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Bet Types Overview

Best bets strategy

  • New players - stick to the 'Win' bet
  • Players looking to explore - venture into an exacta or trifecta
  • For the adventure seeker - dive into the pick 3s and pick 4s

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 (Friday) and the Kentucky Derby (Saturday), where players try to predict the winner of both races.

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A more in-depth synopsis on Bet Types

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.

Straight Bet

The straight bet is the easiest bet to understand in horse betting. You can place wagers on horses to win outright, “place” in the top-two, or “show” in the top-three finishers. As you hedge the wager, the payout becomes reduced, but this is a solid way to ensure that you at least gain a return paid back.

With the next rendition of the Derby appearing to be a very close race among the leading contenders, a place bet on the favorite is the safest way to play. The favorite has placed 1st or 2nd in almost ten years of straight renewals. That being said, the win bet is far more satisfying, though there’s more risk involved.

Exotic Bet – Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta and Boxing Bets

What makes betting on horses so enthralling is the exotic bets, or the horseman's version of a sports bettingparlay.

There is a great deal in variety in bets to make here, but one of the best wagers is called the “exacta box” and is a 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. Three 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.

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

Advanced Handicapping for bet creation

There are many ways to handicap a horse race, and there are no shortages of opinions or angles when it comes to 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. Or just read what our experts say that have completed this work for you!

Data - Speed Figures, Past Performances, Class Ratings and Jockey/Trainer Stats

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. 

Media - Race Replays, Analysis, Surface Status or Track Bias and Horse Form

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.  

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How to bet the Kentucky Derby on a budget

Bet Big In the 2024 Kentucky Derby With Just $50

Can someone really bet $50 or $100 and nail a solid return for that wager?

Yes. Kentucky Derby winners Rich Strike and Mine That Bird alone demonstrate the power of low risk and high reward.

The beauty of horse racing is that there are several ways to turn a little into 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 based on lack of racing in his 3-year-old season.

The sharp bettors, or '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.

Betting the Future with the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager

There are four windows throughout the year where bettors can get in on a futures market and the final futures bet arrives near the second week in April.

The Future bets are absolutely one of the best ways to get in on the Derby early to maximize odds potential. A bettor could play $50 on a 3/1 favorite to win $150…or you could bet on him very early for something like 6/1 odds to win $300.

The KDFW Pool 4 is where you get the best bang for your buck as the contender picture comes into focus. Plus it takes the guess work and relieves tension of having to play a bet on race day.

Sit back, grab a mint julep and wait for the bell to sound. 

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