Kentucky Derby Betting: Finding Runner Up Key to Profits

Finding the Kentucky Derby runner up can produce a big windfall. (Photo credit dreamstime).

Until next Saturday, horseplayers will be focused on finding the winner of the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby (G1). However, to cash big on the first Saturday of May it is just as important to find the runner up before heading to the betting window.

The last two editions of the Run for the Roses saw the betting favorites win the race, Orb in 2013 returning $12.80 and California Chrome getting the job done, paying just $7.00 for the win.

However, we saw longshots round out the exactas in the past two years, the $2 payoffs coming back at $982 in 2013 and $340 last year.

In 2013, Golden Soul rallied from far back of the pack to run up and complete the exacta at betting odds of 34-1.

Last year it was longshot Commanding Curve, who was 18th in the early going and came with a eight wide run to finish second at odds of 37-1.

These two longshots have several things is common. They were both saddled by Dallas Stewart, a former assistant to D. Wayne Lukas. They both came out of the Louisiana Derby (G2), with Golden Soul making a belated run to finish fourth while Commanding Curve was bumped coming out of the gate and rallied to finish third.

This year’s Louisiana Derby winner International Star as a similar running style, and is flying under the radar at early betting odds of 20-1 at Bovada despite sweeping the three Derby preps at Fair Grounds this year.

Check out the Kentucky Derby guide at Odds Shark for the latest betting odds.

The average odds of the Derby runner up the last three decades is 15-1, and we have seen top barns send out bombs that have landed in the bottom half of the exacta.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has landed two longshots for second in the Kentucky Derby.

Todd Pletcher saddled Bluegrass Cat in 2006, running second at 30-1. Pletcher trained Invisible Ink, who ran second in the 2001 Derby at odds of 55-1.

The biggest price over the past three decades belongs to the Kiaran McLaughlin trained Closing Argument, who ran second to Giacomo in 2005 at 70-1, completing a $2 exacta that returned $9,815.

Nick Zito ran second at 11-1 with Ice Box in 2010 and fellow Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas ran second with Proud Citizen in 2001 at odds of 23-1.

Larry Jones ran second in back to back years with Hard Spun (10-1) and Eight Belles (13-1).

Four of the last five runner up finishers were late closers, the lone exception being the Baffert trained Bodemeister, who was a frontrunner.

While the Louisiana Derby accounted for the last two runner-ups, both Bodemeister (2012) and Nehro (2011) made their final preps in the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park.

Finding this year’s Derby runner up could be tough. Once we get past American Pharoah, Dortmund and Carpe Diem, it is tough to separate the next seven or eight contenders.

Will it be another overlooked late runner like International Star or Danzig Moon, or a contender that will be up close to the pace like Materiality or Firing Line?

It is likely going to be price, as the smallest exacta in the last seven years was when favorite Big Brown topped a $142 exacta with Eight Belles.

With an average exacta payoff of $1,173 over the last 15 runnings, it is a good idea to spend as much time handicapping the runner up as trying to figure out who the Derby winner will be.


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