Using your Bankroll Wisely Betting the Kentucky Derby

The beauty and appeal of the Kentucky Derby is that in a 20 horse field, exotic bets even including the favorite can still come back with a decent total. Last year the heavy favorite American Pharaoh won followed by the 4th betting choice and the 2nd choice still paid a nice $72 on a $2 exacta and $101 on the $1 trifecta. And those can sky rocket up if a decent price can find their way into the equation. The year before the heavy favorite California Chrome was followed by the longshot Commanding Curve, instantly sending the exacta to $240 and the Trifecta over $1200.

As we have wrote about many times on here, handicapping is only half of the problem you have to figure out when betting a race. The other half and believe me it is just as important is the decisions you make at the betting window.

$20 WPS Ladder Bet
Want to bet on the race and limit your risk? This is a simple one. Pick the horse you like, bet $2 win / $6 place and $12 to show. You aren’t going to worry about filling out a tax form, but even if your horse finished third you will be able to buy at least one round of beers. If your pick finds the winners circle you are cashing on all three sides of your bet.

$20 Two-Horse Exacta Key
To do this, all you have to do is pick 2 of your favorite horses. Which two horses do you think have the best chance to hit the exacta? Let’s call those two horse A and B. We are going to create two exacta tickets focusing on these two horses, and to win all you have to do is have one of them finish either first or second. Once we have those decide on the next 4 horses that you think can finish out the exacta as well. I would pick those four in a couple of different ways:

– The next horse on your list, who is your third favorite? Let’s call that horse C
– Your favorite longshot, throw a price that can really mix it up. Let’s call that horse L
– The speed horse, who will be outfront and may hold on for dear life to the win or the place? Let’s call that horse S.
– Pick one more, maybe it’s a friends pick, or your favorite name doesn’t matter. Let’s call that horse X.

Now we have our two favorites, A,B and our four other horses C,L,S,X. Let’s create two exacta tickets.

$1 Exacta = A,B / A,B,C,L,S,X = $10
$1 Exacta = A,B,C,L,S,X / A,B = $10

We are going to bet a total of $20 on two tickets, but we have given ourselves a great deal of options. We really are just hoping for our one of our two favorites to find the top two, and best case they both finish 1st and 2nd, and we can win on both tickets.

Want to spend a little more money on the race, play it for more money or play multiple instances using different key horses or different four horses.

$40 One-Horse Trifecta Shot
Want to take a swing for a nice payout and you have a horse you really like. Let’s take a look at keying on a single horse to find the board while looking at some others to round out the trifecta. It’s going to work much like the exacta we talked about before. Find that horse you really like, sure you can bet him to win and have a nice dinner, but you play him in the right trifecta and you could be eating a nice dinner in Hawaii. We are going to be keying on that one horse, call him horse A. And then again we are going to find 5 horses that we want to use in the other parts of the trifecta. You can find them the same way we found the horses in the exacta. But for the sake of ease, let’s call those other 5 horses B,C,D,E,F and let’s create our three trifecta tickets.

$1 Trifecta = A / B,C,D,E,F / B,C,D,E,F = $20
$0.50 Trifecta = B,C,D,E,F / A / B,C,D,E,F = $10
$0.50 Trifecta = B,C,D,E,F / B,C,D,E,F / A = $10

Now again we have chosen one horse, and need that single horse to find first, second or third, and we have used five other horses that can fill out the trifecta. We kept the trifecta at $1 with our favorite horse on top, because it’s our favorite and we should want it to finish in first. You could just as easily keep the first bet at $0.50 and keep the entire bet at $30 if you would like and get a similar result.

Now there are a ton of variations on this one as well that we can add a few other options to. What if we see the race as there are only three horses that we think can win the race, we could just as easily change this to only using A,B,C on top and lower the overall price of our ticket, or add more horses into third place where someone could easily sneak up and grab the end of the trifecta. Here is an example that spends $35 and allows us to go up to 8 horses deep in second and third.

$1 Trifecta = A / B,C,D / B,C,D,E,F,G,H, I = $21
$0.50 Trifecta = B,C / A /B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I = $7
$0.50 Trifecta = B,C / B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I / A = $7

Now that you know what you want to bet, how do you pick the horses??? Check out our Kentucky Derby picks, we have even offered a $50 guarantee this year.