Kentucky Derby Betting Odds To Win 2023: How To Bet Online And More

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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. Here we look at current Kentucky Derby odds for 2023 and a ton more for the most acclaimed horse race of the year.

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Rich Strike Wins the 148th Kentucky Derby

In one of the largest upsets in Kentucky Derby history, the 80-1 underdog Rich Strike outlasted favorite Epicenter and Zandon to claim the 148th Kentucky Derby title. On a $2 bet, Rich Strike won bettors $163.60 to win, $74.20 to place, and $29.40 to show. Epicenter won $2 bettors $7.40 to place and $5.40 to show, while Zandon took home $5.60 on a $2 bet to show.

Here’s how the 2022 Kentucky Derby played out in terms of exacta, trifecta, and superfecta payouts:

  • Exacta ($2 bet): $4,101.20
  • Trifecta ($1 bet): $14,870.70
  • Superfecta ($1 bet): $321,500.10

Kentucky Derby Odds

Official Kentucky Derby morning line odds were made available to bet on online on Monday during the post position draw. Zandon was the ML favorite at 3-1. Current odds to win the KY Derby are also posted below.

PostHorseLatest odds (6:30 p.m. ETMorning Line OddsTrainerJockeyW-P-S (Races)
1Mo Donegal9-110-1Todd PletcherIrad Ortiz Jr.3-0-2 (5)
2Happy Jack20-130-1Doug O'NeillRafael Bejarano0-0-2 (3)
3Epicenter5-17-2Steve AsmussenJoel Rosario4-1-0 (6)
4Summer Is Tomorrow33-130-1Bhupat SeemarMickael Barzalona2-3-0 (7)
5Smile Happy14-120-1Kenny McPeekCorey Lanerie2-2-0 (4)
6Messier (CAN)6-18-1Tim Yakteen*John Velazquez3-3-0 (6)
7Crown Pride (JPN)17-120-1Koichi ShintaniChristophe Lemaire3-0-0 (4)
8Charge It15-120-1Todd PletcherLuis Saez1-2-0 (3)
9Tiz the Bomb27-130-1Kenny McPeekBrian Hernandez Jr.5-1-0 (8)
10Zandon6-13-1Chad BrownFlavien Prat2-1-1 (4)
11Pioneer of Medina53-130-1Todd PletcherJoe Bravo2-1-2 (6)
12Taiba5-112-1Tim Yakteen*Mike Smith2-0-0 (2)
13Simplification35-120-1Antionio SanoJose Ortiz3-1-2 (7)
14Barber Road54-130-1John OrtizRey Gutierrez2-4-1 (8)
15White Abarrio14-110-1Saffie Joseph Jr.Tyler Gaffalione4-0-1 (5)
16Cyberknife15-120-1Brad CoxFlorent Geroux3-2-0 (6)
17Classic Causway75-130-1Brian LynchJulien Leparoux3-1-1 (6)
18Tawny Port74-130-1Brad CoxRicardo Santana Jr.3-1-0 (5)
19Zozos43-120-1Brad CoxManny Franco2-1-0 (3)
21Rich Strike80-130-1Eric ReedSonny Leon1-0-3 (7)

*Tim Yakteen takes over this horse for the suspended Bob Baffert. Baffert was suspended from Churchill Downs for two years after his winning horse at the Derby last year, Medina Spirit, tested positive for the steroid betamethasone.

Shown below were odds to win the Kentucky Derby futures from Caesars – William Hill in Las Vegas that were posted prior to the draw, to give you an idea of what oddsmakers were thinking before post positions were announced.

HorseKentucky Derby odds
Zandon+300
Epicenter+350
Messier+800
Mo Donegal+1000
White Abarrio+1000
Taiba+1200
Smile Happy+2000
Cyberknife+2000
Charge It+2000
Zozos+2000
Crown Pride+2000
Simplification+2000
Tiz the Bomb+3000
Happy Jack+3000
Barber Road+3000
Classic Causeway+3000
Pioneer of Medina+3000
Tawny Port+3000
Summer Is Tomorrow+3000
Etheral Road+3000

Kentucky Derby betting odds: Updated news and info

Kentucky Derby week has arrived and news will be coming fast and furious as we approach post time. Here is updated news and info regarding the 2022 Derby.

  • Zandon was named the morning line favorite on Monday, May 2 after getting the No. 10 post. Epicenter, who was the projected favorite ahead of Monday’s post position draw, drew the No. 3 post and has 7-2 morning line odds.
  • Early Voting will skip the KY Derby and will instead prep for the May 21 Preakness Stakes. Go here for updated Preakness Stakes odds and information. Chad Brown’s horse had ranked 15th on the Derby leaderboard after winning the Withers Stakes.
  • Un Ojo is out of the Kentucky Derby field due to a bruised left front foot.
  • Ethereal Road was scratched on Friday morning, allowing the first AE (Also-Eligible) horse – Rich Strike – to enter the field. Rattle N Roll, who was the other AE horse, was also scratched Friday morning.
  • Check out Beyer Speed Figure rankings for every horse in this year’s Derby.
  • Plan ahead for the day by knowing what time does the Kentucky Derby start and end this year.

Wagering Guide: 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 Field And Horse Profiles

The Road to the Kentucky Derby is a months-long campaign to determine the 20 starters on May 7 with a series of prep races carrying different point values. Owners of the horses with the top 20 point totals are invited to the Run for the Roses.

Some horses just outside of the cutoff often get in because the owners of higher-ranked horses don’t believe their horse can’t win the Derby and pass. When that happens, others move up. That happened twice after the last set of major preps on Saturday, April 9. Forbidden Kingdom and Classic Causeway, who won earlier races on the circuit, fared badly in their follow-up tests and even though they had enough qualifying points, owners withdrew them. That was good news for Charge It, the Florida Derby runner-up who was boosted into the Top 20.

Here is the latest look at the top 20. Kentucky Derby odds 2022 won’t be final until post time, but it’s logical that the horses in the top tier will be favored. Ties on 20th place will be decided by earnings.

Zandon 3-1

Zandon was named the morning line favorite, thanks to his favorable post position at No. 10. Jeff Drown’s horse took advantage of the final point-scoring opportunity, rallying to a stirring triumph in the Blue Grass Stakes.

The 100-point triumph came as he was able to run down Smile Happy, who had beaten him in the Risen Star Stakes.

The improvement from the Risen Star to the Blue Grass indicated the type of evolution that may provide momentum going into the Kentucky. Ran a 98 Beyer in winning the Blue Grass. For more on Zandon betting odds go here to his horse profile.

Epicenter 7-2

Epicenter will run out of post 3. Post 3 has produced five Kentucky Derby winners but none since 1998 when Real Quiet emerged victorious at Churchill Downs.

Epicenter is the classic example of a 3-year-old thoroughbred blossoming throughout the winter-spring campaign. He was nipped on the wire by a charging Call Me Midnight at the Lecomte, but rallied to storm through the stretch and capture the Risen Star Stakes at 7-2 odds. He beat the 2-1 favorite Smile Happy with a wire-to-wire effort.

Epicenter was the favorite at 4-5 in the Louisiana Derby. He was handled adeptly, parked on the rail behind the early speed and swept into the middle of the track for a putaway drive. It was a seasoned run at 1 3-16 miles. His backers will note that he looked strong at the end of this race, which leads to the shortest stretch-out requirement for the 1 1–4-mile Kentucky Derby. A Beyer Speed figure of 102 will garner significant betting support.

Messier 8-1

Did enough in gaining second at the Santa Anita Derby not to waste the riveting 103 Beyer he’d notched earlier on the prep circuit.

Did his job in blowing past Forbidden Kingdom to get the best of what was perceived as a match race. But had no answer the charge of Taiba, who stretched out from six furlongs and prevailed at 1 1-8 miles. For more on Messier Kentucky Derby odds go here.

Mo Donegal 10-1

If anyone can smell the finish line, it’s this three-year-old. After nipping Zandon at the wire in the Remsen, he returned to Aqueduct and gained his Derby racing stripes with a grinding stretch run to take the Wood Memorial away from Early Voting. Coming from well back in the pack, Mo Donegal gained clear second by the early stretch and nipped Early Voting just before the wire. He made an improvement of roughly five seconds over a December performance at the same track and 1 1–8-mile distance, winning the Wood Memorial in 1:47.96. Kentucky Derby bettors will pick up on that.

White Abarrio 10-1

There is much to like about his Florida circuit. He won the Holy Bull handily by being near the lead early and holding off Simplification, who had blown the start. After Simplification won the Fountain of Youth, which White Abarrio sat out, he orchestrated a role reversal in the Florida Derby. This time Simplification got a good break and led coming for home. But White Abarrio ran him down. He thus delivered noteworthy victories both on the front end and as a stalker. Top Beyer of 97 is pretty respectable. Check out more on White Abarrio odds here.

Taiba 12-1

Is this a wonder horse? Taiba tied Messier for the highest Beyer Speed rating on the circuit, 103, in his pro debut. That was a six-length victory. He then prevailed at 1 1-8 miles in the Santa Anita Derby in just his second pro start.

And he beat Messier to do it. Has by far the best two-race career start of any horse in the field. Will be taken quite seriously on Derby week. Learn more about Taiba and his odds to win the 2022 Kentucky Derby here.

Zozos 20-1

Ran the right race in the Louisiana Derby to qualify for Churchill Downs. Got right to the lead and carried it into the final turn.

Epicenter was too good and ran him down, but Zozos held second and notched 40 qualifying points. Would have to improve to beat Epicenter in the Derby, but comes off a good effort nonetheless.

Cyberknife 20-1

Another horse who blossomed and has hit his stride at the right time. Was a distant sixth in the Risen Star Stakes to Epicenter and looked like an also-ran. A rebound effort was good, yet it occurred via major drop into allowance company. But then he roared to prominence with a tactical victory in the high-profile Arkansas Derby. He made an early move along the backstretch, getting the jump on 6-5 favorite Secret Oath. That ensured he still had a small lead in the homestretch when Secret Oath surged. But he found another gear, put Secret Oath away and scored a sharp victory in a major race. Peaking at the right time. Looked comfortable stretching to a career-high distance of 1 1-8 miles. Now must add an eighth of a mile. For more on Cyberknife’s Kentucky Derby betting odds go here.

Simplification 20-1

Has been a hard knocker in three high-profile efforts. After blowing the start of the Holy Bull, he rallied from the back to gain second behind White Abarrio. In the Fountain of Youth, he suffered another sub-par start, swung well wide and had enough to deliver the points that put him in the Kentucky Derby. In the Florida Derby, he got the good start and had the lead going for home. But White Abarrio overran him. Simplification also allowed Charge It to steal second place from him. And that’s why Charge It was on the bubble.

Charge It 20-1

Lightly-raced and exciting. His first race resulted in a thrilling stretch-duel loss to a horse named volcanic.
His second was a victory.

His third race was the Florida Derby. Bettors backed the horse trained by Todd Pletcher, whose six victories is the most in the Florida Derby.

Charge It ran hard all the way and captured second just before the wire. If he goes on to bigger things, that Florida Derby surge will be his major story.

Crown Pride 20-1

Obtained 100 qualifying points on the strength of a victory in the UAE Derby in Dubai. Sat on the coattails of Summer is Tomorrow from the start, ground him down in the stretch and overtook him with just more than 100 yards to go. While UAE winners have yet to establish themselves at Churchill, this race distance of 1 3-16 miles should be respected. Like the Louisiana Derby, it provides the closest distance to the actual Kentucky Derby length of 1 1-4 miles. Crown Pride was the first Japanese-bred horse to win the UAE Derby. For more on Crown Pride and his Kentucky Derby odds go here.

Kentucky Derby betting odds 2022

Smile Happy 20-1

Bridesmaid effort at the Blue Grass Stakes, combined with earlier second at the Risen Star Stakes, propels him to Louisville. Took command at the top of the stretch in the Blue Grass, but Zandon was too good.

It’s now looking that the Risen Star race – with Epicenter winning, Smile Happy second and Zandon third – was a prominent prep. One thing Smile Happy has going for him is that he’s racing out of Post 5, which has produced more Kentucky Derby winners than any other position.

Summer Is Tomorrow 30-1

Ran like there was no tomorrow in the UAE Derby. Got to the front in a big field and was able to take the group all the way around the 1 3–16-mile distance.

Overtaken by Crown Pride in deep stretch, but held second to stamp Churchill credentials. Would be a legitimate speed presence in the Kentucky Derby. Check out more on Summer Is Tomorrow and his odds to win the Kentucky Derby here.

Tiz the Bomb 30-1

Give a nod to his handlers. He was seventh in the Holy Bull and had an uphill battle to get Derby qualifying points.

His connections wisely put him in the Jeff Ruby Steaks the same weekend as the more prestigious $1million Florida Derby and Arkansas Derby races. That was the move. Tiz the Bomb captured the $600,000 Jim Ruby against a much softer field, doing what he had to do to earn a Derby berth for this connections. Nothing wrong with his winning time of 1:48.60 for the 1 1-8 miles. Can he follow the smart move by his management to thrive in the Derby?

Barber Road 30-1

Has given every indication that he prefers a longer distance. In the Rebel, he made a sustained bid, coming up just short at 1-16 miles, finishing third to Un Ojo and Ethereal Road. In the Arkansas Derby, he took second place away from Secret Oath in the final strides at 1 1-8 miles. Who knows if he can stretch to 1 1-4 miles, but he continues to thrive late. Barber Road may be one of those horses who is overlooked on the day of the Derby and hits the bottom of the superfecta at a nice price.

Tawny Port 30-1

Boosted by owners of Classic Causeway and Forbidden Kingdom passing up the Derby. Did just enough, getting second in the Jeff Ruby, to get his points.

Vulnerable to getting bumped if either Bye Bye Bobby or In Due Time win the prep-finale Lexington Stakes on Saturday. Tawny Port may even be entered to try and get off the bubble.

Classic Causeway 30-1

Classic Causeway drew the shortest straw this week as he will race out of the dreaded No. 17 post position at Churchill Downs. No horse running out of Post 17 has ever won the Kentucky Derby.

The colt finished third in the Breeders’ Futurity and second in the Kentucky Jockey Club S., which was won by Smile Happy.

Happy Jack 30-1

Happy Jack had 30-1 morning line Kentucky Derby betting odds despite getting to race out of one of the more favorable post positions at Churchill Downs. Post 2 has produced the most top three – in the money – finishers in Derby history with 25.

Doug O’Neill’s 3-year-old Colt finished third in the Santa Anita Derby in April and third in the San Felipe Stakes in March. Jockey Rafael Bejarano won at the Kentucky Oaks back in 2010.

Pioneer of Medina 30-1

Todd Pletcher is racing three horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby with Mo Donegal, Charge It and Pioneer of Medina ready to go. Pioneer of Medina is the longout of the Pletcher trio as he had 30-1 ML odds.

The colt snuck into the Derby field by garnering a fourth in the Risen Star and a third in the Louisiana Derby.

Rich Strike 30-1

Rich Strike was a late entry into the field as Ethereal Road was scratched on Friday. The 3-year-old Colt broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on Sept. 17, 2021 as he won a maiden claiming race by 17 1/4 lengths. He earned 20 Kentucky Derby qualifying points by finishing third in the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park in early April. Tiz the Bomb was the winner of that race.

Why favorites win more now at Churchill Downs than in the past

The Kentucky Derby points system installed in 2013 has produced a couple major ramifications. One, it inspires interest all the way throughout the Road to the Kentucky Derby campaign, predominantly launched in the months of February, March and April. This eliminates the randomness of how horses can be selected for the Run for the Roses. The top 20-point leaders qualify.

Two, the Derby has changed what types of horses enter. The qualifying races do not include sprints. This eliminates horses who specialize at six and seven-furlongs, a comparative sprint distance. This means that only horses proven at long distances reach the Derby and it has a dramatic impact on the pace of the race.

With sprinters placed in large fields, top distance horses can be swept into a “speed duel,” run their race too early, and can be overcome in the stretch by other horses, usually longshots.

A classic picture of past Derbys looks like this: frontrunners bang heads for a mile, wilt at the top of the stretch and a cavalry charge of closers completely changes the leaderboard. Literally millions of dollars changed hands in the last quarter mile of the Derby. That’s not the case now.

The name of the game is to get early position near the lead, maintain it into the final turn, and try to win the race late.
Most horses who win the Derby now are in the first pack early, or just behind it.

Viewers can discover whether this is true every year by seeing the time for one-half mile. Before the rule changes, that time was often in the 45-second range. That’s about 47 seconds now.

Consider the 2001 Derby. Song and A prayer recorded the fastest half-mile time in history, at 44 4-5. He had neither a song nor a prayer in the stretch, being overcome by Monarchos and Invisible Ink. He finished 13th. A similar scenario unfolded in 2005 with Giacomo, who ran down a hot pace from 17th and took the lead just before the wire.

The two-second difference between the past and present half-mile paces represents about 10 lengths, based on industry estimates. A horse loping along at 47 seconds, essentially improves his placement by 10 lengths over the course of a race.

When American Pharoah won the Derby en route to first Triple Crown sweep in 37 years, he did the first half in 47.1 and was with the front runners.

Winners now come from the front. This is something to put into handicapping assessments for the Derby. Winners will be forwardly placed.

Lead-up prep races to the Kentucky Derby 2022

The Championship Series races that are listed below define the bulk of the field and will determine Kentucky Derby betting odds. 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.

  • *Feb. 19 : Risen Star * – Fair Grounds (Winner: Epicenter)
  • Feb 26 : Rebel Stakes * – Oaklawn Park (Un Ojo)
  • March 5: : Fountain of Youth * – Gulfstream Park (Simplification)
  • March 5 : Gotham Stakes * – Aqueduct (Morello)
  • March 5: San Felipe * – Santa Anita Park (Forbidden Kingdom)
  • March 12: Tampa Bay Derby * – (Classic Causeway)
  • March 26 : Louisiana Derby ** – Fair Grounds (Epicenter)
  • March 26: UAE Derby ** – Meydan Race Course (Crown Pride)
  • *March 27: Sunland Park Derby* Sunland Park Race Course (Slow Down Andy)
  • April 2: Jeff Ruby Stakes ** – Turfway Park (Tiz the Bomb)
  • April 2: Arkansas Derby ** – Oaklawn Park (Cyberknife )
  • April 2:Florida Derby** _ Gulfstream Park (White Abarrio)
  • April 9: Blue Grass ** – Keeneland (Zandon)
  • April 9: Santa Anita Derby ** – Santa Anita Park (Taiba)
  • April 9: Wood Memorial ** – Aqueduct (Mo Donegal)

*85 points race and 50 points to the winner
**170 points race and 100 points to the winner

Louisiana Derby

The last Louisiana Derby winner to win the Kentucky Derby was Grindstone (1996).

Florida Derby

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).

UAE Derby

No recent winners of the UAE Derby have also won the Kentucky Derby.

Wood Memorial

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).

Arkansas Derby

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.

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)

  • $503.60

Trifecta ($1 bet)

  • $1,696.90

Superfecta ($1 bet)

  • $9,456.40

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 over 33 states can legally bet on the race from their mobile devices and web browsers. You can also see Kentucky Derby betting odds and wager on horse racing legally in the state of Nevada at the hundreds of casinos with race and sportsbooks.

Best online horse racing sites

Get Up to $200 Back If Your First Bet Loses

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 when examining Kentucky Derby betting odds. 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. Looking at all of the Kentucky Derby betting odds can be overwhelming.

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 guides to assist you in identifying value with Kentucky Derby betting odds and potential winner

      • 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, May 3), 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.

Here is a glance at last year’s odds to win the Kentucky Derby. Essential Quality was the morning line favorite.

PostHorseMorning Line OddsJockeyTrainer
1Known Agenda6-1Irad Ortiz Jr. Todd Pletcher
2Like the King50-1Drayden Van DykeWesley Ward
3Brooklyn Strong50-1Umberto RispoliDaniel Velazquez
4Keepmeinmind50-1David CohenRobertino Diodoro
5Sainthood50-1Corey LanerieTodd Pletcher
6O Besos20-1Marcellino PedrozaGreg Foley
7Mandaloun15-1Florent GerouxBrad Cox
8Medina Spirit15-1John VelazquezBob Baffert
9Hot Rod Charlie8-1Flavien PratDoug O'Neill
10Midnight Bourbon20-1Mike Smith Steve Asmussen
11Dynamic One20-1Jose OrtizTodd Pletcher
12Helium50-1Julien LeparouxMark Casse
13Hidden Stash50-1Rafael BejaranoVicki Oliver
14Essential Quality2-1Luis SaezBrad Cox
15Rock Your World5-1Joel RosarioJohn Sadler
16King FurySCRBrian Hernandez, Jr.Kenny McPeek
17Highly Motivated10-1Javier CastellanoChad Brown
18Super Stock30-1Ricardo Santana, Jr. Steve Asmussen
19Soup and Sandwich30-1Tyler GaffalioneMark Casse
20Bourbonic30-1Kendrick CarmoucheTodd Pletcher

Five biggest Kentucky Derby longshot winners ever

As we witnessed in 2019 when Country House won at 65-1 Kentucky Derby 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 Kentucky Derby 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 Kentucky Derby odds). 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 Kentucky Derby betting 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 Kentucky Derby betting 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

Medina Spirit initially won the 2021 race with a time of 2:01.36 but the victory was shrouded in controversy as the horse failed a postrace drug test. Mandaloun, who finished second, has since been declared the official winner.

YearWinnerTimeOdds$2 WinTrack
2021Medina Spirit*2:01.3612-1$26.20Fast
2020Authentic2:00.618-1$18.80Fast
2019Country House2:03.9365-1$132.40Sloppy
2018Justify2:04.203-1 $7.80Sloppy
2017Always Dreaming2:03.599-2$11.40Wet
2016Nyquist2:01.315-2$6.60Fast
2015American Pharoah2:03.023-1$7.80Fast
2014California Chrome2:03.665-2$7.00Fast
2013Orb2:02.895-1$12.80Sloppy
2012I’ll Have Another2:01.8315-1$32.60Fast
2011Animal Kingdom2:02.0421-1$43.80Fast
2010Super Saver2:04.458-1$18.00Sloppy
2009Mine That Bird2:02.6651-1$103.20Sloppy
2008Big Brown2:01.827-2$6.80Fast
2007Street Sense2:02.179-2$11.80Fast
2006Barbaro2:01.366-1$14.20Fast
2005Giacomo2:02.7550-1$102.60Fast
2004Smarty Jones2:04.064-1$10.20Sloppy
2003Funny Cide2:01.1912-1$27.60Fast
2002War Emblem2:01.1320-1$43.00Fast
2001Monarchos1:59.9710-1$23.00Fast
2000Fusaichi Pegasus2:01.122-1$6.60Fast

*Medina Spirit was later disqualified and first place of the 2021 Kentucky Derby was awarded to Mandaloun. Mandaloun had 26-1 odds to win the Derby but bettors who had Mandaloun to win were not able to cash their tickets as the order of the finish was previously declared “official.”