The Kentucky Derby is the most popular betting race in the United States. It is the Super Bowl of horse racing and creates considerable media attention and interest from casual sports fans and bettors along with industry insiders and horsemen. Known as “The most exciting two minutes in sports,” the Kentucky Derby generates huge betting action as America’s most wagered-on horse race. The Sport of Kings has clearly generated an interest from the casual fan when it comes to the Kentucky Derby, as wagering records, live attendance and Derby telecast viewership are at all-time highs. Here, we look at the latest betting odds and much more.
NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage has averaged more than 14 million viewers each year since 2008. The ratings for the 2021 race were particularly strong as NBC averaged nearly 15 million viewers. That number was up significantly from the 2020 broadcast (9.8 million), which took place in the month of September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The betting handle was also up in 2021, going from $79.4 million in 2020 to $153.66 million. In 2019, the handle was a record $165.6 million bet.
Medina Spirit won the 2021 race with a time of 2:01.36. He had odds of 12-1. Medina Spirit’s victory was shrouded in controversy as the horse failed a postrace drug test. As a result, trainer Bob Baffert was suspended by Churchill Downs for two years.
It was reported on June 2 that Medina Spirit had failed a second drug test, and it is now likely that Kentucky Racing Officials will overturn Medina Spirit’s victory. Mandaloun, which finished second in the 2021 Derby, would be declared the winner.
How to bet on the Kentucky Derby
So, how do you bet on the Kentucky Derby and get involved in the exciting action? Fans can wager legally at racetracks, simulcast centers such as Off Track Betting (OTB) Centers, and on advanced deposit wagering platforms such as TVG, where bettors in 33 states can legally bet on the race from their mobile devices and web browsers. You can also wager on horse racing legally in the state of Nevada at the hundreds of casinos with race and sportsbooks.
Best online horse racing sites
2022 Kentucky Derby race information
- Date: Saturday, May 7, 2022
- Time: 6:57 p.m. ET
- TV: NBC
- Tablet, Online, Mobile: NBC Sports App and streamed live on NBCsports.com/live
- Track & Location: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
- Distance: 1 ¼ miles (10 furlongs)
- Surface: Dirt
- Horses: 3-Year-Old Thoroughbreds
- Track Record: Secretariat – 1:59.40 in 1973
Kentucky Derby Odds 2022
A glance at last year’s odds for the Kentucky Derby. Essential Quality was the morning line favorite.
Click on the odds below to wager at TVG.
|Post||Horse||Odds||Morning Line Odds||Jockey||Trainer|
|1||Known Agenda||11-1||6-1||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Todd Pletcher|
|2||Like the King||46-1||50-1||Drayden Van Dyke||Wesley Ward|
|3||Brooklyn Strong||40-1||50-1||Umberto Rispoli||Daniel Velazquez|
|4||Keepmeinmind||45-1||50-1||David Cohen||Robertino Diodoro|
|5||Sainthood||39-1||50-1||Corey Lanerie||Todd Pletcher|
|6||O Besos||39-1||20-1||Marcellino Pedroza||Greg Foley|
|7||Mandaloun||29-1||15-1||Florent Geroux||Brad Cox|
|8||Medina Spirit||12-1||15-1||John Velazquez||Bob Baffert|
|9||Hot Rod Charlie||5-1||8-1||Flavien Prat||Doug O'Neill|
|10||Midnight Bourbon||12-1||20-1||Mike Smith||Steve Asmussen|
|11||Dynamic One||41-1||20-1||Jose Ortiz||Todd Pletcher|
|12||Helium||36-1||50-1||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse|
|13||Hidden Stash||34-1||50-1||Rafael Bejarano||Vicki Oliver|
|14||Essential Quality||5-2||2-1||Luis Saez||Brad Cox|
|15||Rock Your World||5-1||5-1||Joel Rosario||John Sadler|
|16||King Fury||SCR||SCR||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||Kenny McPeek|
|17||Highly Motivated||11-1||10-1||Javier Castellano||Chad Brown|
|18||Super Stock||33-1||30-1||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||Steve Asmussen|
|19||Soup and Sandwich||25-1||30-1||Tyler Gaffalione||Mark Casse|
|20||Bourbonic||28-1||30-1||Kendrick Carmouche||Todd Pletcher|
Kentucky Derby payouts
Here is what the payouts looked like for the 2021 race.
Medina Spirit ($2 bet)
- Win: $26.20
- Place: $12
- Show: $7.60
Mandaloun ($2 bet)
- Place: $23
- Show: $13.40
Hot Rod Charlie ($2 bet)
- Show: $5.20
Exacta ($2 bet)
Trifecta ($1 bet)
Superfecta ($1 bet)
Kentucky Derby Field: Horse Profiles
Starting with the 2013 Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs created and used the Road to the Kentucky Derby prep season and championship series points races to determine the qualified runners in the Derby. Since then, the post-time Derby favorite has won 6-of-8 Derbys. The other winners were 8/1 and 65/1 thanks to the controversial 2019 Kentucky Derby that saw the favorite, Maximum Security, cross the finish line first only to be disqualified. Long shots have finished second four times and third twice in the last eight years, which has created big payouts in the exacta, trifecta and exotic pools. A long shot of 20/1 or greater has finished in the Superfecta seven of the last 10 Derbys, and 10/1 or better in nine of the past 10 Run for the Roses.
Four long shots of greater than 32/1 have won or finished second, and they were closers from well off the pace. The Derby pace can get faster with more horses in the field, and can set up for runners from off the pace who conserve energy to make a stronger run if given room turning for home. Still, a Derby favorite and front running or forwardly placed speed horse has crossed the finish line first in seven of the last eight editions (one disqualified).
Of the last 40 horses to finish fourth or better in the Derby, only two were higher than 40/1. Both those runners hit the board on a sloppy track including 2019 winner Country House.
For reference, Equibase’s Speed Figures (ESF) tells you how fast a horse has been running in each of its races — adjusted for track, distances, and conditions.
Here’s a look at the 2021 Kentucky Derby field broken down by Favorites, Contenders and Long shots. Kentucky Derby morning line odds shown here are from TVG.
Essential Quality (2-1): Unbeaten in five starts, Essential Quality is the prohibitive favorite with morning line (ML) opening odds of 2/1. He’s versatile and has show speed up front and also strong finishing ability that includes a final 3 furlong time of 36.3 seconds, and final furlong in 12 seconds when winning his last race, the Blue Grass Stakes. Those final times are both best in this field in a final prep race, and Essential Quality’s 109 ESF in that race is a career best.
Rock Your World (5-1): The wire-to-wire Santa Anita Derby winner did not race as a 2-year-old, but he’s 3-for-3 this year. Trainer John Sadler started Rock Your World on the turf to let him develop. He’s bred top to bottom for the dirt, and when cut loose in his graded stakes debut in the Santa Anita Derby, he responded with a resounding win and a career-best 103 ESF to finish 4 ¼ lengths in front of race favorite Medina Spirt. The 100 Beyer Speed Figure he posted is tops in this field. Jockey change for the Derby to strong stretch rider Joel Rosario.
Known Agenda (6-1): The impressive off-the-pace Florida Derby winner posted a Kentucky Derby-field best 112 ESF in that race. He’ll now have to overcome the dreaded No. 1 post for the Derby. He’s won three races at 1 1/8 miles, and he’s bred beautifully for the classic 1 ¼ mile distance as a son of two-time Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Curlin. Top trainer/jockey combo of Todd Pletcher and Irad Ortiz, Jr. give him a better chance to continue his improvement.
Contenders and mid-range long shots (Up to 20/1)
Hot Rod Charlie (8-1): The front-running Louisiana Derby winner has hit the board in four straight starts, including runner-up behind Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November when he posted his best 99 ESF. His 99 Beyer Speed Figure is tied for second-best in the field. His marked improvement in the last four starts came around two turns and adding blinkers. Note that jockey Joel Rosario rode him in the Louisiana Derby, but has hopped off to ride Rock Your World. Trainer Doug O’Neill has turned to top West coast jockey Flavien Prat to ride.
Highly Motivated (10-1): He set the pace and ran a game second just behind Essential Quality in the Blue Grass Stakes while finishing strong with a solid final 3 furlong time. He’s posted three straight triple-digit ESF’s, including a 108 speed figure in the Blue Grass. His sire is Into Mischief, whose son Authentic won last year’s Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Highly Motivated will be running up front, and with slightly softer fractions, could hold up against this field and turn the tables on Essential Quality at a much better price.
Medina Spirit (15-1): He’s finished first or second in all five starts for trainer Bob Baffert. His first try at 1 1/8 miles was a runner-up finish as the 4/5 favorite last race in the Santa Anita Derby when he posted a 97 ESF and came home slow in his final 3 furlongs. He’s chased the speed horses his last two starts to finish second, and his two career wins have been front-running efforts with a career-best Beyer of 99.
Mandaloun (15-1): He’s also sired by Into Mischief, and has won 3-of-5 starts including the 1 1/8 mile Risen Star when he pushed past pace presser Midnight Bourbon. Mandaloun fell flat and finished sixth in the Louisiana Derby, but has been posting strong works over the Churchill Downs track this month.
Midnight Bourbon (20-1): Well-bred son of Tiznow has finished in-the-money in five straight graded stakes races. He bounced back from the Risen Star to hold up stronger in the stretch and finish second in the Louisiana Derby with a 96 ESF. His closing 3 furlongs was a solid 37.7 seconds. Midnight Bourbon finished second in a Derby prep last fall at Churchill Downs, and has posted a pair of strong 5 furlong bullet works over the track this month.
Dynamic One (20-1): He posted a 100 ESF when finishing runner-up by a head in the Wood Memorial, but his closing 3 furlongs was slower over a deeper track. His ML and fixed odds have been cut in half from days prior to the post draw on Derby week. Trainer Todd Pletcher has said this colt has trained the best of his four runners, and been a victim of poor post draws and running wide. Dynamic One was a $725K yearling purchase, and his only win is a maiden race. A son of 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags, his talent has not yet been realized or shown up on the track, but he did win a 1 1/8 mile race in March to break his maiden.
O Besos (20-1): He’s finished third and fourth in his two graded stakes starts. O Besos was running last in the Louisiana Derby before making up ground in the stretch to come home in 37 seconds over his final 3 furlongs to finish third with a career-best ESF and Beyer of 96. O Besos is the only runner in this year’s Derby field who was sired by a Kentucky Derby winner (Orb).
Big long shots
Soup and Sandwich (30-1): Unraced as a 2-year-old, Soup and Sandwich ran on the lead before finishing second in his stakes debut in the Florida Derby. His closing 3 furlong time of 37.5 was good, but Gulfstream’s fast track was like a conveyor belt. The post position draw of 19 is problematic.
Bourbonic (30-1): He drew the outside 20 post, and his shocking Wood Memorial win came from the very back of the pack at 72/1 odds in his stakes debut. His 100 ESF is good, and the Aqueduct track is deeper. Bourbonic has improved his speed figures his last four starts while winning three, but just one stakes race.
Super Stock (30-1): He’s also farther outside in the 18 post, and the Arkansas Derby winner posted a career-best 106 ESF. His final 3 furlong time was slow, but he’s a developing colt who has run in five straight stakes races and finished second over the Churchill surface last fall behind King Fury.
Like the King (50-1): He’s faced less quality runners, but did race his best when coming from off the pace to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks in late March with a 95 ESF.
Sainthood (50-1): He had a troubled trip in the Jeff Ruby Steaks and rallied to finish a close second. That was his stakes debut and third start after going un-raced as a 2-year-old.
Brooklyn Strong (50-1): He’s won 3-of-5 starts including the Grade II Remsen in December. His fifth place finish in his 2021 debut in the Wood Memorial was uninspiring, and his closing 3 furlong time was the slowest in this field for a final prep race.
Keepmeinmind (50-1): He was showing promise as a 2-year-old and finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. But his sophomore season has produced a pair of off-the-board finishes including fifth in the Blue Grass Stakes. Keepmeinmind did post a blistering 4 furlong bullet work at Churchill Downs on April 23.
Helium (50-1): He’s 3-for-3 with a win in the Tampa Bay Derby his best race and 95 ESF. That race was 1 1/16 miles, so he has yet to run 1 1/8 miles, let alone the 1 ¼ classic Derby distance.
Hidden Stash (50-1): He finished second behind Helium in the Tampa Bay Derby. He’s bred better, and came back to finish a distant fourth in the Blue Grass with a 94 ESF. His closing 3 furlong time of 37.4 and closing furlong of 12.5 seconds were good. Trainer Vicki Oliver would be the first woman trainer to win the Derby if Hidden Stash can pull the massive upset.
Other Derby Horses and news
- Kentucky Derby favorite Life is Good came off the Derby trail with a hind-end injury suffered in late March. The Bob Baffert-trained son of Into Mischief is the stablemate of Concert Tour. Life is Good was 3-for-3 and had posted the fastest ESF of 110 in a pair of Derby prep races. Also, on April 17, Bob Baffert removed his other leading contender Concert Tour from the Kentucky Derby. Baffert indicated they will wait and run Concert Tour in the May 15 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
- Mandaloun won the Risen Star in February, but has dropped down the odds board after finishing sixth in the Louisiana Derby as the favorite.
Lead-up prep races to the Kentucky Derby 2021
The 14 Championship Series races leading up to the Kentucky Derby will define the bulk of the 2021 Kentucky Derby field. Those races reward more recent form and run from mid-February to mid-April.
There are eight Championship Series races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby that award 100 qualifying points to the winner, 40 points to second place, 20 points to third and 10 points to fourth. The top two finishers earn a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby if they have not already earned enough points. The 2021 Sunland Derby scheduled for March 30 was canceled, leaving six Championship Series races that award 50 points to the winner and the top four finishers receive qualifying points (50-20-10-5).
- Feb. 13: Risen Star * – Fair Grounds (Winner: Mandaloun)
- Feb. 27: Fountain of Youth * – Gulfstream Park (Greatest Honour)
- March 6: Gotham Stakes * – Aqueduct (Weyburn)
- March 6: Tampa Bay Derby * – Tampa Bay Downs (Helium)
- March 6: San Felipe * – Santa Anita Park (Life is Good)
- March 13: Rebel Stakes * – Oaklawn Park (Concert Tour)
- March 20: Louisiana Derby ** – Fair Grounds (Hot Rod Charlie)
- March 27: Jeff Ruby Stakes ** – Turfway Park (Like the King)
- March 27: Florida Derby ** – Gulfstream Park (Known Agenda)
- March 27: UAE Derby ** – Meydan Race Course (Rebel’s Romance)
- April 3: Blue Grass ** – Keeneland (Essential Quality)
- April 3: Santa Anita Derby ** – Santa Anita Park (Rock Your World)
- April 3: Wood Memorial ** – Aqueduct (Bourbonic)
- April 10: Arkansas Derby ** – Oaklawn Park (Super Stock)
*85 points race and 50 points to the winner
**170 points race and 100 points to the winner
The last Louisiana Derby winner to win the Kentucky Derby was Grindstone (1996).
Since 1995, seven Florida Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby – the most of any Derby prep race over that time. They include include Always Dreaming (2017), Nyquist (2016), Orb (2013), Big Brown (2008), Barbaro (2006), Monarchos (2001), Thunder Gulch (1995).
No recent winners of the UAE Derby have also won the Kentucky Derby.
Recent Wood Memorial winners that also won the Kentucky Derby include Fusaichi Pegasus (2000).
Blue Grass Stakes
Blue Grass Stakes winners that also won the Kentucky Derby include Spectacular Bid (1979).
Santa Anita Derby
Recent Santa Anita Derby winners that also won the Kentucky Derby include Justify (2018), California Chrome (2014), I’ll Have Another (2012).
Recent Arkansas Derby winners that also won the Kentucky Derby include American Pharoah (2015) and Smarty Jones (2004). Country House finished a distant third in the 2019 Arkansas Derby, and then went on to the controversial Kentucky Derby upset win as a huge 65/1 long shot.
Watch how those horses perform and pay attention to their training, times, form and comments by the trainers in the biggest races leading into the Run for the Roses.
Types of wagers and bets
In addition to the traditional “straight” wagers (Win, Place, Show), fans can also attempt to cash big in the various “exotic” pools. Exacta (first two), Trifecta (first three), Superfecta (first four), and Super High Five (first five) wagering are all offered, and cashing a ticket in any of these pools can produce a bigger payday.
- Win: Bet on the horse you think you will win the Kentucky Derby.
- Place: Get paid the place price if your horse finishes first or second.
- Show: A show bet pays the least, but you win and get paid the show price if your horse finishes first, second or third.
- Exacta: Predict the first two horses in the correct order.
- Trifecta: Predict the first three horses in the correct order.
- Superfecta: Predict the first four horses in the correct order.
- Super High Five: Predict the first five horses in the correct order.
In 2018, Justify became the sixth consecutive favorite to win the Kentucky Derby. But the 2019 winner was 65-1 long shot Country House, who paid $132.40 to win on a $2 bet – the second-highest payout in Derby history. The race had a controversial finish when Maximum Security was disqualified for interference after crossing the finish line first. Code of Honor (14-1) was awarded second place in the 2019 Derby to trigger a $2 exacta payout of $3,009.60.
Many racetracks, online sites and sportsbooks accept less than $2 bets on the exotic pools, so you can risk less. For example, you can place $1 exacta bets or 50-cent trifecta or even 10-cent superfecta bets at some locations. This allows you more betting options while including more horses at a lesser cost or risk.
An additional bet of interest is the Kentucky Oaks – Derby double in which you pick the winner of Friday’s $1 million Kentucky Oaks (for 3-year-old fillies) and Saturday’s $3 million Kentucky Derby. Those are the guaranteed purses for each race and in 2019 the prizes for the Kentucky Derby were:
- 1st place: $1,860,000
- 2nd place: $600,000
- 3rd place: $300,000
- 4th place: $150,000
- 5th place: $90,000
Picking a Kentucky Derby winner
Betting on horse racing has never been easier, but selecting a winner and predicting the puzzle in the exotic pools in search of a big payoff takes a little more time, skill and some racing luck. The 20 horses running in the Kentucky Derby is the largest field of any American race, and while the payouts are larger, it can be more difficult to handicap and determine the winner with so many factors to consider including each horse running 1 ¼ miles for the first time in their racing careers.
The Kentucky Derby has up to a maximum of 20 horses in the field, and those horses have qualified through 36 Kentucky Derby prep races in the United States and another seven races in Europe and four races in Japan.
There are many ways to handicap a horse race, and there is no shortage of opinions or angles when it comes to the handicapping the Kentucky Derby and the numerous prep races leading up to the Run for the Roses. From a beginners betting guide to the most sophisticated tools for informed handicappers, there are many pieces of information and betting guides to assist you in identifying a potential Kentucky Derby winner and narrowing the list of top contenders.
- Handicapping horses and the races takes much time, research and intuition. Beyond studying past performance charts and horse stats, speed figures, class ratings, tracks and bias, jockey and trainer stats, horse pedigree and even post position (Kentucky Derby Draw is Tuesday, April 27), a handicapper has to have insight and ability to find various ways to identify horses that are ready to win. You may not have time to study race videos, tracks, surfaces or find horses that had troubled trips in recent races. But it’s important to distill information that can help you identify horses that may offer some value next time out or others in good form or improving that can provide value wagering opportunities.
- Races and horses should be backed based on positive attributes and not as a result of who’s the best of the worst. As you study some of the betting guides and training tools, you’ll become better prepared and equipped to analyze races in a more meaningful way. That includes the Kentucky Derby and the prep races leading up to the Derby. Understanding ‘how’ a horse has run leading up to a race versus the far less important ‘where’ the horse finishes and ‘what’ time he/she completed their recent races will help you become more proficient.
Five biggest Kentucky Derby long shot winners ever
As we witnessed again in the 2019 Kentucky Derby when Country House won at 65-1 odds, there is no sure thing and nothing is certain in horse racing. The winning horse is not always the best horse, and in a field of 20 at the Kentucky Derby, a little bit of racing luck and a good trip makes for a better chance to win. Some of the biggest upsets in the history of the Kentucky Derby have made for some sensational stories.
1. Country House (2019)
In an historic reversal, Country House was declared the winner of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby after an objection was filed, claiming that Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line first, had interfered with the path of multiple horses at the top of the stretch. Maximum Security was disqualified to 17th place, allowing Country House to be declared the Kentucky Derby winner. At 65-1 odds, Country House became the second-longest shot to win the Kentucky Derby behind Donerail (91-1), who beat a field of eight in 1913. Jockey Flavien Prat and trainer Bill Mott both won their first Kentucky Derby with Country House, who paid $132.40 on a $2 win bet.
2. Go For Gin (1994)
At 9-1 odds, Go For Gin was not one of the biggest longshots to win the Kentucky Derby. But his victory was shocking as the 2-1 favorite Holy Bull looked too good to lose having won eight of nine races entering the Run for the Roses including more than six lengths better than Go For Gin in the Florida Derby. But Go For Gin took to a sloppy Churchill Downs surface following a torrential rain and stole the race on the front with Chris McCarron aboard replacing Jerry Bailey and splashing home to win by two lengths with the heavy favorite Holy Bull finishing twelfth.
3. Giacomo (2005)
Giacomo was able to succeed in the 2005 Kentucky Derby where his sire, Holy Bull, had failed in 1994. The gray colt came from 18th at the three-quarter pole and rallied desperately with jockey Mike Smith aboard at odds of 50-1 to win a thrilling finish in the final strides by a half-length over fellow long shot Closing Argument (71-1). Giacomo actually denied a Triple Crown bid with his late charge as Afleet Alex won the Preakness and Belmont after finishing a close 3rd in the Kentucky Derby. Giacamo won the Derby with only a maiden win to his credit and a fourth place finish in his final Derby prep.
4. Mine That Bird (2009)
Mine That Bird was one of five horses at 50-1 odds and sat dead last in the Derby field of 19 through three quarter miles. Then jockey Calvin Borel got the son of Birdstone to rush up along the rail and the Canadian colt blew by the field on a sloppy track to win by nearly seven lengths over Pioneer of the Nile in an epic upset. Mine That Bird went on to finish 2nd in the Preakness and 3rd in the Belmont, but did not win a race in his final nine starts following the shocking Kentucky Derby win, which paid $103.40 on a $2 win bet.
5. Thunder Gulch (1995)
Thunder Gulch entered the Kentucky Derby as an accomplished 3-year old having won the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby. But a 4th place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes as the favorite three weeks before the Derby had handicappers questioning trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ fine colt. Bettors would regret severely overlooking this live longshot at 24-1. When jockey Pat Day decided to ride the Derby favorite Timber Country (3rd), Lukas turned to jockey Gary Stevens. The rest is history, and at 24-1 odds, it’s shocking a Florida Derby winner could go off at those long odds. Thunder Gulch remained within striking distance at the top of the stretch and put away the field by 2 ½ lengths over closers Tejano Run and Timber Country with the front-running filly and favorite Serena’s Song fading to finish sixteenth. Thunder Gulch finished 2nd in the Preakness before winning the Belmont and Travers Stakes.
Honorable mention: Gallahadian (35-1) in 1940 over 2-5 favorite Bimelech, who went on to win the Preakness and Belmont. Gato Del Sol (21-1) in 1982, Charismatic (31-1) in 1999 and Animal Kingdom (21-1) in 2011 after the favorite Uncle Mo scratched out of the race.
Kentucky Derby history: betting odds and winners
|2012||I’ll Have Another||2:01.83||15-1||$32.60||Fast|
|2009||Mine That Bird||2:02.66||51-1||$103.20||Sloppy|