The annual Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville is the biggest horse races of the year. It is also one of the biggest betting events given the amount of money wagered on the most exciting two minutes in sports.
The Basics of Horse Betting
Betting on live horse racing in general is one of the best ways to add even more excitement to the Sport of Kings.
There are basically four different ways you can bet on a horse race as follows:
- A live horse racing track
- A land-based off-track betting venue
- An online horse betting site
- An online sportsbook with racebook options
Betting the daily race card at an actual racetrack is the most hands-on way to bet on horses. Whether you are taking in the races from the grandstand or down on the track itself, there is nothing like hearing the thunder and roar of these magnificent animals racing one another to the finish line.
Horse races are run on two types of tracks. The first is made up of dirt. The other is grass or some form of synthetic turf. The track itself is oval in shape to accommodate various races of different lengths.
A common form of measurement for horse racing is a furlong. One furlong equates to 1/8 of a mile. Horses races can be as short as a five furlong sprint and as long as a 2 ½ mile marathon. The Kentucky Derby is contested on dirt over a distance of 1 ¼ miles.
Another way to bet horse races is at a land-based off-track venue. This could be a stand-alone facility or connected to a casino. One of the biggest benefits of off-tracking betting sites is easy access to every track running a live daily card.
At any given time, there may be two or three races at different live tracks going to post. A bank of large televisions and other smaller video monitors are in place to watch the actual race live. There is a general betting counter as well as separate betting kiosks just like any actual live racing track. Most off-track racing venues also offer dining and a bar.
In recent years, the popularity of horse betting online has exploded. Online betting sites such as TVG and AmWager specialize in horse racing. Not only can you bet the races, you can also stream them live in real time. These sites also feature horse betting experts that can provide insider tips for any track’s daily race card.
TVG has its own television network that ties everything together. You can also stream the races live with TVG. Twinspires.com is the official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby. This horse betting site also runs its own TV network for specific tracks such as Churchill Downs, Oaklawn Park in Arkansas and Fair Grounds in Louisiana.
If you love to bet on sports, the easiest way to add horse betting to the mix is through your favorite online racebook. Just about every online sportsbook also offers a racebook for horses. These online racebooks cover every track across the country and often around the world running a daily card.
Any online site offering horse betting also utilizes an advanced mobile betting platform to offer easy access to the races through any handheld device with internet access.
Best Betting Offers for the Kentucky Derby 2020
More on horse racing betting offers:
How to Bet a Horse Race at a Live Track or Off-Track Venue
There are two different ways to bet on a horse race at the track itself or at an off-track betting venue. The first is through a general betting window where you place your bet with an actual attendant. The other is a self-serve betting kiosk.
The process for placing a bet with an actual teller follows these specific steps:
1) The race number you are betting.
2) The amount of money you are wagering.
3) The type of bet you wish to place.
4) The number of the horse you are betting on.
*Please note – A horse’s number pertains to their running order in the race. If there are eight horses in a race and the one you bet on is starting from the fifth gate, they would be #5.
Read about the Kentucky Derby 2020 Horses and their past performances
If you are betting multiple tracks at an off-track venue, be sure to mention which track you are betting first.
An example of a typical horse bet would sound like:
“Churchill Downs Race 1. $2 to win on #5.” That process remains the same no matter which type of bet is placed. The teller will print your ticket. It is the bettor’s responsibility to check that ticket for accuracy. If you are betting a race from a self-serve kiosk, you will key in the exact same information.
How to Bet on a Horse Race Online
The first thing you will need to do to bet horse races online is sign-up for an online account. This process requires some basic information such as name and address, email and phone number and date of birth. Sites such as TVG and AmWager also offer promotional codes that must be entered at the time of registration to receive any bonus offers.
Once you create an online account, you will need to fund that account with a deposit. Methods for making deposits into your online account can be found in the banking section of the betting site.
When it comes time to place a bet, you are basically going to follow the exact same process used at an actual track. Choose a track, race number, betting amount, betting type and the horse’s number.
Placing the bet is basically a three-step process. First, you will add the bet to your betting slip. Next, you will actually place the bet. The final step is to confirm the bet to make sure everything is accurate.
Different Ways to Bet on Horse Races
When it comes to the different ways to bet on a horse race, there are two different categories. The first is often called ‘straight bets’ and the other is known as ‘exotics’.
A straight bet refers to betting the Win-Place-Show option. Win is the horse that crosses the finish line first. Place is the horse who finishes second and Show is the horse that finishes third.
This type of bet only involves one horse. You can make as many straight bets as you want in a race but you are always betting the horses individually.
If you bet a horse to win, the only way to cash a winner is if they win as well. If you bet a horse to place, they can finish first or second. In this case, you will cash a winning ticket if your horse is in the top two. The show bet extends a winning ticket to your horse finishing in the Top 3. This is also known as ‘finishing in the money.’
The actual money won on a Win-Place-Show bet is tied to a horse’s closing odds and the amount of money bet on any of those options in a particular race.
For example, if you bet $2 on a horse to win at 2/1 odds, you stand to double your money ($4) if they go on to win. If you bet that same horse to place, the return might be 50 percent ($1) if they finish first or second. The return on a show bet would be marginal (.10).
Another option is to bet a horse ‘across the board’. This means you are betting them to Win, Place and Show. That same $2 bet would now cost $6 but you would collect money on all three bets if they go on to win, two bets if they place and one bet if they show.
When it comes to reading horse betting odds, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, there is an opening betting line and the closing betting line. The opening odds or ‘morning line’ are set by each track’s oddsmaker.
The closing line is a horse’s actual betting odds right before the race gets underway. These are set according to the amount of money that was bet on them to win. All US horse races use fractional odds such as 1/1 for a heavy favorite all the way to 100/1 and higher for a huge longshot.
The two most common exotic horse bets are the exacta and trifecta. The exacta pertains to betting one horse to win and another to place (finish 1st and 2nd). The trifecta stretches this bet to the top three horses in the final running order.
In order to win, the horses you bet must finish in the exact order you bet them. However, you can box that bet as a hedge.
For example, if you place a $2 exacta on the #4 horse to win and the #6 horse to finish second, they must finish in that order. If you place a $2 exacta boxed, the bet will cost you $4. Now, either horse can finish first or second and you would still win.
Taking things one step further, a superfecta extends the bet on the finishing order to the top four horses.
Other examples of exotic bets would be the Daily Double, Pick 3 and Pick 4. These all pertain to picking the correct winning horse in consecutive races. Two races in a row is the Daily Double, three would be the Pick 3 and betting four winners in four straight races would be the Pick 4.
An Early Look at the 2020 Kentucky Derby Field
The Kentucky Derby may be the most popular horse race in the world but it is also the largest in terms of the size of the field. Open to the best three-year old Thoroughbreds, this field expands to 20 entries.
The actual field is determined by an extended series of Kentucky Derby prep races that begin when these horses are juveniles or two years old. Qualifying points are collected for finishing in the top four of these designated preps. The contenders with the most points up to 20 will earn a place in the Kentucky Derby field.
Many online sportsbooks will post futures odds to win the Kentucky Derby. These odds are posted well in advance of the race and constantly updated. Betting futures for this race is a great way to maximize the value in some of the betting odds.
Using one of the top-rated online sportsbooks posting Kentucky Derby futures, Tiz the Law is a +175 favorite to win. Given this year’s upside down schedule for the three Triple Crown races, this three-year old New York-bred colt gets the early nod.
The son of Constitution has already won the Belmont Stakes on June 20 at Belmont Park as the first jewel in this year’s Triple Crown series.
This year’s Kentucky Derby was pushed back to Saturday, Sept 5 and the final leg will be the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse on Saturday, Oct. 3.
Second on the list is Honor A.P. at +550 odds on the futures board. This colt is the great grandson of Seattle Slew, who was one of the greatest racing horses of all time.
Moving down the list, Authentic and Uncle Chuck each have +1000 odds as third-favorites. Art Collector and Cezanne are next at +1400. The next three contenders at +2000 are Dr. Post, King Guillermo and Max Player.
Heading into the month of July, there are still more than half a dozen Kentucky Derby prep races on the board. The results of these races will help shape the final field for this year’s “Run for the Roses.”
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