Kentucky Derby 2019: Betting Odds, Favorites, And How To Pick A Winner

Written By FairwayJay on May 3, 2019 - Last Updated on August 31, 2020

The Kentucky Derby is less than a week away, and the Run for the Roses is shaping up to be a more wide-open race in 2019. While fans and recreational race bettors focus on the favorites, the professional players and bettors interested in a better payoff believe this will be the year that a favorite does not win the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby post positions and odds

Post positions and opening odds were released on Tuesday morning. The original 20-horse field of 3-year-olds was made up from the Top 20 points earners during the 35 Derby prep races from September through April leading up to the Kentucky Derby on May 4.

Two horses — Omaha Beach and Haikal — were scratched this week. Bodexpress replaced Omaha Beach in the field.

Betting Odds Provided by TVG (Click here to get $300 risk-free bet, just for signing up!)

Post PositionHorseCurrent Odds (5/4)Opening Odds
1War of Will15-120-1
3By My Standards15-120-1
4Gray Magician50-150-1
7Maximum Security8-110-1
9Plus Que Parfait30-130-1
10Cutting Humor30-130-1
Omaha BeachSCRATCHED4-1
13Code of Honor12-115-1
14Win Win Win12-115-1
15Master Fencer50-150-1
16Game Winner9-25-1
18Long Range Toddy30-130-1
20Country House30-130-1

Betting the Kentucky Derby

Why is the Kentucky Derby such a great wagering opportunity? Beyond being a major event and the biggest 3-year-old race in the world, the Derby is stacked with a 20-horse field. So a big betting pool with a lot of uniform money is bet on the Kentucky Derby.

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Now while the favorites have won the last six runnings of the Run for the Roses, those favorites have paid out pretty well between $6.60 and $12.80 on a $2 win wager. But it’s the chance for a big exacta, trifecta or superfecta score that brings out more bettors for the Derby.

When favorite Always Dreaming won in 2017, a $2 exacta with Lookin’ At Lee (33-1) returned $336.20. A $1 trifecta with Battle of Midway (40-1) in 3rd returned $8,297.20. And a $1 superfecta with Classic Empire (6-1) in 4th paid $75,974.50.

So, a big score is possible in the Derby, and most recreational bettors will miss the potential midrange or long shots with some value and potential to hit the board.

ALSO READ: Exacta? Trifecta? How To Get Exotic At The Kentucky Derby

2019 Kentucky Derby runners and contenders

These three horses will take the most wagering action and one of them will go off as the Kentucky Derby favorite:

  • Roadster: First place in Santa Anita Derby
  • Game Winner: Second place in Santa Anita Derby, Champion in 2-year-old and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion
  • Improbable: Second Arkansas Derby

The next wave of contenders includes the other four major prep winners:

  • Tacitus: First Wood Memorial
  • Maximum Security: First Florida Derby
  • Vekoma: First Blue Grass
  • By My Standards: First Louisiana Derby

The remaining two-thirds of the Derby field will provide some potential for a big score. Recall in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, Always Dreaming won with a clean trip and good post over a sloppy track, but super longshots at 33-1 and 40-1 finished second and third to trigger big exotic payouts.

  • Plus Que Parfait: First UAE Derby
  • Code of Honor: Third Florida Derby
  • War of Will: Ninth Louisiana Derby
  • Cutting Humor: First Sunland Derby
  • Tax: Second Wood Memorial
  • Win Win Win: Second Blue Grass
  • Country House: Third Arkansas Derby
  • Long Range Toddy: Sixth Arkansas Derby
  • Spinoff: Second Louisiana Derby
  • Gray Magician: Second UAE Derby
  • Master Fencer: Second Fukuryu Stakes (Japan)

Kentucky Derby recent history

The 2019 Kentucky Derby will have the biggest purse in the Derby’s 145-year history of $3 million. The race-day favorite at post time has won the Kentucky Derby six years in a row, including in 2018 when Justify won the Run for the Roses on his way to Triple Crown glory. American Pharoah (2015) was also a Triple Crown winner, snapping the long 37-year drought without a Triple Crown winner.

Year Winner Odds Payout Time Track Favorite
2018 Justify 3-1 $7.80 2:04.20 Sloppy 1st
2017 Always Dreaming 9-2 $11.40 2:03.59 Wet 1st
2016 Nyquist 5-2 $6.60 2:01.31 Fast 1st
2015 American Pharoah 3-1 $7.80 2:03.02 Fast 1st
2014 California Chrome 5-2 $7.00 2:03.66 Fast 1st
2013 Orb 5-1 $12.80 2:02.89 Sloppy 1st
2012 I’ll Have Another 15-1 $32.60 2:01.83 Fast 2nd
2011 Animal Kingdom 21-1 $43.80 2:02.04 Fast 8th
2010 Super Saver 8-1 $18.00 2:04.45 Sloppy 6th
2009 Mine That Bird 51-1 $103.20 2:02.66 Sloppy 18th

Kentucky Derby tips

Beyond having a few places to bet on the Kentucky Derby like top online sites TVG, TwinSpires and BetAmerica, look for sportsbooks that offer more Derby betting options like head-to-head matchup wagering. As more legal sports books enter the market in the US, like FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook and PointsBet, you’ll also see these sportsbooks get more creative and offer special offers and promotions on big events like the Kentucky Derby.

In handicapping and preparing for the Kentucky Derby, you can be more informed and have a better chance to win if you follow some simple tips from experts like Mike Shutty; author of Super Screener and founder of Horse Racing Nation.

  1. Learn to project the pace of the race
  2. Form cycle analysis – look at contenders form cycle
  3. Workout analysis – last workouts before Derby

While we wait for the Derby draw, final workouts and track condition, some early indications are that a horse at midrange odds like Tacitus is clearly capable of winning the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

Longshots like Spinoff or Maximum Security can’t be ruled out on the win or Top 3 finish, while By My Standards is another potential underneath type horse that would provide a big payoff even if the projected favorite Roadster were to continue improvement and run well to win.

Mike Smith, who road Justify to a Kentucky Derby victory and Triple Crown achievement, has elected to ride Omaha Beach instead of Roadster.

Bettors beware.

FairwayJay Avatar
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FairwayJay is a leading national sports and gaming analyst and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful professionals. Jay has pursued his passions and maintained a pulse on the sports, gaming and poker industries while living in Las Vegas for nearly two decades. He's been a regular featured guest on sports and gaming radio shows, podcasts and produces sports betting and related industry articles and content for various sites and sources.

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