The home of intelligent horse racing discussion
The home of intelligent horse racing discussion

What to Know About Betting on the Kentucky Derby for the First Time

Figure 1 Thoroughbreds train all year for a crack at the Kentucky Derby

It is the biggest horse race in North America – if not the world – and fans across the globe will be eagerly anticipating this year’s event. Held annually on the first Saturday in May at the Churchill Downs racetrack, the Kentucky Derby is the culmination of one of the finest race meetings out there.

The Run for the Roses as it is sometimes called has also been called “the most exciting two minutes in sports” and attracts millions of viewers each year. Over just 1 1/4 miles of dirt track, the best three-year-old thoroughbreds battle it out to go down in history as a Kentucky Derby winner.

There will be around 150,000 people at the racetrack on the day, as well as millions watching on TV and online. What the vast majority of them will have in common is that they will have made a prediction of the outcome and placed a bet on the winner. But what if you have never bet on the big race before? Here is our indispensable guide for Kentucky Derby newcomers.

Practice Makes Perfect

For anyone planning to make their first-ever bet at the Kentucky Derby, we would recommend that you actually get a little bit of practice in beforehand. Although it is very common for this monumental race to be the main attraction when it comes to horse racing, knowing a little about the sport is advised.

Even if you are still saving your first actual prediction for the big day in May, why not start taking some interest in race meetings and results in the months leading up to Derby Day? This is a good way to get a feel for horse racing, but also to get to know some of the horses that will be running at Churchill Downs.

Widen Your Focus

When you get ready to place your bet on the Kentucky Derby you may, unsurprisingly, be sure of the horse you think will win. But it might be a good idea to widen your focus a little and think about backing a number of horses. There are usually around 20 horses in the Derby, more than many other races.

There is nothing to stop you from backing as many horses as you like – as long as you have the funds to do so – so why not spread the love and bet on more than one thoroughbred? There are always some very good horses in the running, so you are sure to be able to find some good prices.

Heed Advice

As this will be your first ever time betting on the Kentucky Derby, you will probably be looking for some advice from seasoned veterans of the race. That is probably the best thing you can do as a beginner. Don’t think that you automatically know best and be prepared to take in expert information.

There is no end of media outlets and experts willing to share their knowledge and intelligence about the race. So, make sure that you listen to what they say. Look for experts who seem to have a good following and can back up their predictions with winning bets. You don’t have to take their advice in the end – but it is worth hearing them out.

Watch Your Budget

Away from which horse, or horses, to back in the big race, one very important piece of advice is to make sure that you keep an eye on your bankroll. It is very easy to get carried away in all the excitement when it comes to great sporting occasions like the Kentucky Derby.

Make sure that you budget your betting before the meeting begins. If you are looking to back horses in a number of races, you won’t want to diminish your funds too early. By only betting as much as you are willing to lose and gambling responsibly, you can look at any winnings as a bonus. This will be the first time you have placed a bet on the big race, so you may not be quite as successful as you hope.

Know Your Bets

Picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby is the big prize for anyone looking to place a bet on the event. But you should also consider different types of wagers – and there are a lot to consider. By all means, try to pick a winner. But thinking about a place or show bet is advised.

Those two last bets are predictions of a horse finishing in either the top two or three. Obviously, the potential winning returns will be lower than a straight win bet – but you will have more chance of being successful. Check out the wide range of betting options well before race day so you are not rushed into placing wasteful bets on the day itself.

Figure 2 Pour yourself a mint julep and enjoy the most exciting two minutes in sports

Enjoy the Occasion

If you are lucky enough to be in attendance at Churchill Downs on the big day then enjoying the occasion should not be any trouble at all. Whatever the outcome of your betting, you are sure to enjoy one of the true sporting spectacles. But you can still enjoy the day even if you are watching the race at home.

Get into the spirit of the day and invite people around to watch the Derby. It is a social occasion as much as anything else – and one that has transcended the sport. You will always remember your first Kentucky Derby and we are sure that you enjoy plenty more to come in the future.