Kentucky Derby Betting Tips

The 141st running of he Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 2 and for horseplayers and handicappers it is the Holy Grail of racing.

With a 20-horse field and tens of millions in betting dollars added to the betting pools by casual sports fans, the race is by far the best wagering race of the year.

The question I get asked each year is how to capitalize on the big day and walk away with an inflated bankroll and a steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House as opposed to leaving the track and looking under the car seat for spare change and hitting the Taco Bell drive-thru.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you unleash your horse betting bankroll on Derby Day:


Be Prepared

There is a wealth of information available online to help you handicap and wager on Derby Day. There are replays available of all of the key Derby preps, workout analysis, pedigree information, and past performances available so you can do your homework. There also is a wealth of bad information out there too, opinions from bloggers and some writers that are not worth the time to read. Make sure if you are going to use a so called expert’s opinion on Derby Day that he has a proven track record. Most of the press credentials that are handed out during Derby Week are given to writers and bloggers that only cover horse racing one week a year. Keep that in mind and use a trusted source for your information.

Planning a Wagering Strategy

Know what your bankroll is and how much you can afford to lose. On Derby Day there are 13 races, and there is no rule that says all or most of your bankroll has to be spent on the Kentucky Derby. There will be large fields and great betting opportunities throughout the day. Look for races where you have a strong opinion and wager a higher percentage of your wagering bankroll on those races, and less or none on the races where you do not have a strong opinion or you feel there is no value to be found.

Look for Value

The name of the game to making a profit betting the ponies is finding value, or overlays. Plan out your bets and look for odds that you think are fair. If you decide the fair odds of a horse is 5-1 and he is at 3-1 on the toteboard, don’t wager, or look at the exotic pools to find better value and more bang for your buck.

Rules Are Made to be Broken

One thing we know for sure over the past decade is that rules are made to be broken. Just about every so called steadfast Derby rule has been nullified in recent years. Derby winners have now come into the race off five and six week breaks, raced over polytrack in their final preps, have been saddled by relatively unknown trainers, have used unconventional prep schedules and races, and have been lightly raced. About the only rule not yet broken is that no horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby without racing at age two.


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Turf ‘n’ Sport subscribers have scored big on Kentucky Derby Day! Michael Dempsey nailed Animal Kingdom on top in the 2011 Derby, returning $43.80 for a $2 wager. In 2010, Mike nailed Super Saver with his top pick, returning $18.00! In 2007 Mike scored with his top pick Street Sense, paying $11.80!