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How to Bet the 2021 Kentucky Derby

April 28, 2021
Kentucky Derby Picks 2021

The 2021 Kentucky Derby is back to kicking off the year’s Triple Crown on Saturday, May 1, from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The best three-year-old thoroughbreds will start this year’s Triple Crown racing series after being run on Saturday, September 5, last year with no fans present due to the coronavirus.

The ceremonial “Race for the Roses” is the first leg of the Triple Crown. The Preakness Stakes will take place on Saturday, May 15, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and the final leg will be the Belmont Stakes which takes place at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, on Saturday, June 5.

With the number of states that have legalized sports gambling, it is easier than ever to bet on this year’s race. And with the half-dozen or so highly trusted offshore sportsbooks, anyone in North America can get in on the action. If you are planning on placing a wager on this year’s race, here’s a look at how you can bet the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Types of Bets

Horse racing differs from many of the sports that bettors are used to. There are no spread or moneyline bets. In horse racing, there are several simple bets that can be placed as well as some of the more exotic ones.

The simplest wager is on a horse to win the Kentucky Derby. A “Win” bet is a single bet on one horse to win. The horse must win the race for a return on your wager.

Bettors can also make a “Place” or “Show” bet. A “Place” bet is on one horse to finish second or bettor. The bet wins if the horse finishes in first or second place. The payout is less than a “Win” bet. A “Show” bet is on a horse to finish third or better. If the horse finishes first, second, or third; the bettor wins. Again, the payout is less than a “Win” bet.

Exotic Bets

There are also a number of exotic bets that can be made on the Kentucky Derby. Bets like the Exacta, Trifecta, and Superfecta are harder bets to win, but the payouts offer some big winnings. In each of these bets, the bettor wagers on the exact order of finish. The Exacta bet is on the horses that will finish first and second, for example.

Bettors can also “Box” these exotic bets. When a bettor boxes the Exacta bet for example, the two horses picked can finish in either first or second place. Order does not matter.

Betting Tips for 2021 Kentucky Derby

Understanding the different types of bets you can make, it’s now time to take a look at some interesting trends that will give us some insight on how to bet this year’s Kentucky Derby. In each of the last eight races, the favorite has won six times. Last year when the race was run in September instead of its usual May, favorite Tiz the Law finished second to Authentic.

Another item to look at is races run prior to the Kentucky Derby. For the eight years, prep race points has become a thing and it is a good indicator for Derby bettors. Seven of the last eight winners had at least 100 prep race points. This year, seven horses fit that bill including current favorite Essential Quality (140).

In looking at races prior to the Kentucky Derby, it helps to look at the race just prior to the event. Nine of the past ten winners have won their race just prior to running at Churchill Downs. The only Derby winner that did not win its previous race was Country House in 2019, but that comes with an asterisk. Country House was declared the Kentucky Derby winner only after Maximum Security was disqualified.

Heading into this year’s Race for the Roses, Essential Quality and eight other horses will run having won their previous race.

The one other interesting trend is that seven of the last nine Derby winners were unbeaten as three-year-olds. That trend would be eight of ten if Maximum Security had not been disqualified in 2019. Once again we find that Essential Quality fits the bill having not lost a race yet this season.

The Pick

With the favorite having won so often in recent years and considering some of the other trends, it makes it much easier to back the current favorite, Essential Quality. The favorite is given 2/1 odds (+200) to win. Challengers include Rock Your World (5/1), Known Agenda (6/1) and Hot Rod Charlie (8/1).