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Eric Uribe | Tue 30/04/2019 - 03:51 EDT

Doubling Down at Churchill Downs: How To Bet Kentucky Derby

Doubling Down at Churchill Downs: How To Bet Kentucky Derby
They don't call it "the most exciting two minutes in sports" for nothing! The Kentucky Derby returns to Churchill Downs this Saturday for the 145th time and a record $3 million at stake in prize money. The horse race will draw betting action far and wide, but few bettors will be as informed as you after reading this. Here's a complete guide to wagering on the Kentucky Derby!

Deep history, head-turning fashion, nail-biting action, and of course, betting — those are the main ingredients that make the Kentucky Derby a one-of-a-kind sporting event.  

The first-ever race took place in 1875 at the same track it remains today, Churchill Downs in Lousiville. Since then, the country has changed two-fold, but anticipation for the event has never been stronger. More than 100,000, — including a whos-who list of celebrities — are expected to attend this Saturday's festivities in wide-brimmed hats and colorful attire. 

While the Kentucky Derby's pageantry is what hooks you in, horse betting is what keeps people coming back year after year. After all, it's one of the most bet-on sports events of the year. 

However, a crowded 20-horse race field doesn't make picking an outright winner easy. But that's where we come in. We've compiled some of the best advice to net you the Kentucky Derby results, and the accompanying payoff, you deserve! 

Frontrunners Before Race Time

The latest Kentucky Derby odds over at a Bovada have it close. Here's the horses with the best lines to win it all:

  • Omaha Beach (+350)
  • Roadster (+450)
  • Game Winner (+500)
  • Improbable (+700)
  • Tacitus (+800)
  • Maximum Security (+1000)

Above odds are all NRNB (non-runner, no bet). As it implies, it's an insurance in case the horse you bet on drops out last-minute. In the event that the horse with your betting stake does withdraw, you'll be refunded your wager. All of it. Folks, you can't beat that!

How To Watch The Kentucky Derby

Each year, the race falls on the first Sunday of the month. This year that date happens to be May 4. It's perhaps the crown jewel of a crowded sports betting weekend that also includes boxing, NBA postseason, and NHL playoffs. 

NBC has been home to the Kentucky Derby since 2001 and this year is no different. Once again, all the action will air live on the NBC channel. The network also has a streaming app for mobile users in case you can't be in front of the television.

The Kentucky Derby post time will be 6:50 pm EST. However, live coverage of the extravaganza gets underway early at 2:30 pm EST.

What's At Stake (Spoiler: A Whole Lot)

For a race already so rich in history, the only real way to raise the bar even higher is by increasing the prize money. That's the predicament we're in on Saturday as a cool, hard $3 million in purse money will be dispersed to the race's top-five finishing horses. That's a $1 million increase from a year ago, making the 2019 event the richest in race history. 

The money split is as follows: an eye-popping $1.86 million for the winner (along with a giant gold trophy, of course). The runner-up will earn $600,000, followed by $300,000 to third place, $150,000 for fourth, and fifth takes homes $90,000. Not bad for a two-kilometer sprint.

Making The Pick

Look, we love betting the underdog as much as the next guy, but horse racing isn't the sport to do so — unless you like going broke for some odd reason.

The rule of thumb in horse racing is the favorite wins one-third of the time. However, that actually might be an understatement when it comes to the Derby. Each of the last six times, the pre-race favorite came out on top. The most recent example being Justify, who won on a soggy Churchill Downs course last year. Justify went on to claim victories at the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to become only the 13th triple-crown winner. 

That trend bodes well for Omaha Beach. It also helps that the three-year-old horse has never lost a race in his career, not unlike Justify last year, who retired unbeaten. Omaha Beach will enter Saturday riding high off impressive victories at Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby.

Typically, we'd give pause to a horse that's owned and trained by a duo that's never won the Kentucky Derby. A triumph at the Run for the Roses has long eluded Omaha Beach owner Rick Porter and trainer Richard Mandella. That's a steep contrast to legendary trainer Bob Baffert, who will lead Roadster, Game Winner, and Improbable into the field. After winning a pair of Triple Crowns in four years, Baffert is the sport gold standard.

So why Omaha Beach instead of one of Baffert's horses? Look no further than jockey Mike Smith. They don't call him "Big Money" for nothing and the jockey essentially had his pick of any horse he wanted in the 2019 field. Even after leading Justify to a triple crown alongside Baffert last year, Smith snubbed him in favor of Omaha Beach. That's a telling sign in our book. 

Between a proven jockey, a six-year trend, and recent success, Omaha Beah checks all the boxes you look for in a horse before laying down a bet. The one and one-fourth mile course is his win come Saturday — and yours to cash in from, too.  

Lock in your wager at one of our partners below before Saturday's race time!

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