Kentucky Derby Betting Preview

If Thoroughbred horse racing is The Sport of Kings, then the Kentucky Derby is the coronation. As the most famous and popular horse racing event in the world, the Derby is a Grade I Stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds with a purse worth $3 million. Of course, as it’s the biggest horse race in the world, it’s also the most wagered-on horse race in the world, and this year’s Kentucky Derby preview indicates that a record global handle will be turned at betting shops, casinos, and online sportsbooks everywhere.

As the first leg of the famed Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby has been run every year since its inaugural run in 1875, all on the same racetrack: Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. The Kentucky Derby is always held on the first Saturday in May, although in 2020, it was held on September 5th due to COVID-19, and the left-handed dirt track is 10 furlongs in length (1.25 miles). Horses qualify to participate in the Derby-based on points accrued in the annual “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series of races, which is a new placement scheme, established in 2013. (Prior to 2013, a graded stakes race earnings system was used to determine qualification.)

In the US, the race has earned the reputation of being “the fastest two minutes in sports,” though the build-up to the race – the entire Kentucky Derby preview and all its billions of dollars in betting action – is on fans’ and bettors’ minds for many months before the ponies ever line up at the starting gate.

Kentucky Derby Basics
Race Day:
September 5, 2020
Post Time:
7:01pm EDT
Horse Track:
Churchill Downs
Track Location:
Louisville, Kentucky
Track Length:
1.25 Miles
Betting On The Kentucky Derby

Though horse race betting is not considered sports betting and is therefore widely available throughout the US, not every state allows it. However, those that do will feature plenty Kentucky Derby previews, with betting access through their own racetracks, simulcast facilities, and off-track betting (OTB) locations.

If you live in a state where land-based horse racing betting is not legal, you can still wager on the Kentucky Derby by using an online sportsbook, as all the best sites feature full international racebooks and various promotions that will get you out of the gate on the right hoof.

After all, the Kentucky Derby is the most widely wagered horse racing event on earth, turning an annual handle easily in excess of $10 billion globally. The most convenient way to be a part of legal Kentucky Derby betting – and win some of it! – is to join a reputable online sportsbook. Doing so is fast, free, and 100% legal. Just make sure you sign up before the starting gates open, as there’s no live betting on the Kentucky Derby.

2020 Kentucky Derby Odds

The 2020 Kentucky Derby is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated runnings of the race’s 145-year history. Given the odd scheduling of the Triple Crown in 2020, the Derby is actually the second Triple Crown race to take place - the Belmont Stakes took place only a few weeks after it’s scheduled time. The Belmont was won by Tiz The Law, who is favored in the Kentucky Derby as well.

17 - Tiz The Law -150
16 - Honor A. P. +650
18 - Authentic +1000
10 - Thousand Words +1800
6 - King Guillermo +2200
5 - NY Traffic +2500
12 - Sole Volante +3300
2 - Max Player +4000
3 - Enforceable +4000
5 - Major Fed +5000
13 - Attachment Rate +5500
7 - Money Moves +5500
4 - Storm The Court +6600
1 - Finnick The Fierce +8000
8 - South Bend +8000
9 - Mr. Big News +10000
11 - Necker Island +12500
14 - Winning Impression +12500
2020 Kentucky Derby Favorites

From the above odds, you can see who the 2020 Kentucky Derby favorites are. While the exact odds will differ from site to site (which is a very compelling reason to join multiple offshore books, as shopping lines can make you thousands of extra dollars during Derby season), most venues have their favorites more or less listed in the order shown above. At all books, Tiz the Law is the favorite.

One way to handicap these ponies from afar (as most of us aren’t lucky enough to attend Churchill Downs on Derby Day to see the Thoroughbreds up close) is to consider gate position. You can check the histories of various gate positions in the Kentucky Derby, and see how many horses have won from a given position. Taking these sorts of developments into account will help you gain a serious edge when handicapping Kentucky Derby favorites.

Retrospective: 2018 Derby Favorites

Because the field has not been set yet for the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the top favorites have yet to be established beyond the futures listed above. As such, we will have to wait a while for this year’s top class to sort itself out. However, to understand the nature of the sport and the type of pedigree that it takes to become a world-class Thoroughbred contender, last year’s marquee lineup is a great place to look. Justify, last year’s Derby favorite, went on to win the Triple Crown. Will there be another historic champion this year?


2018 Kentucky Derby Profile


  • Sex and Color: Chestnut Colt
  • Foaled: March 28, 2015 (Kentucky)
  • Sire: Scat Daddy
  • Dam: Stage Magic
  • Owner: China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Starlight Racing, WinStar Farm
  • Trainer: Bob Baffert
  • Breeder: John D. Gunther
  • Jockey: Mike E. Smith
  • Earnings: $600,000
  • Record (Starts-Firsts-Seconds-Thirds): 3-3-0-0
  • Kentucky Derby Leaderboard: 8
  • Current Betting Odds: +400 at

Justify, the colt of famous parents Scat Daddy and Stage Magic, propelled himself into the top spot on the Kentucky Derby leaderboards at racebooks the world over with a convincing win of three horse lengths over some stiff competition at the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 7. Bob Baffert, Justify’s trainer, and his rider, Mike Smith, have gone on the record as saying that this horse – who has won all three of his career starts with nary a hitch – is a “raw talent” with plenty of room to grow. While Justify will have his task cut out for him at the Kentucky Derby, which will be just his second stakes race in a young career, Smith is convinced that “it’s even kind of scary to talk about” what the horse could achieve. The smart money is on Justify to live up to at least some of the expectations on Derby Day, and with +400 moneyline odds at Bovada, you just about can’t go wrong to find a spot for him on your coupon. Even though Justify is down a little ways on the Churchill Downs leaderboard going into Derby Week, we really can’t argue against a bet in his favor, especially not with the odds being offered on him.


2018 Kentucky Derby Profile


  • Sex and Color: Bay Colt
  • Foaled: March 17, 2015 (Kentucky)
  • Sire: Scat Daddy
  • Dam: Leslie’s Lady
  • Owner: Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, John Magnier
  • Trainer: Aidan P. O’Brien
  • Breeder: John D. Gunther
  • Jockey: Ryan L. Moore
  • Earnings: $1,200,000
  • Record (Starts-Firsts-Seconds-Thirds): 7-4-1-0
  • Kentucky Derby Leaderboard: 7
  • Current Betting Odds: +500 at

Mendelssohn is one of the more impressive entrants into the field at the upcoming 2018 Kentucky Derby and also one of the more experienced, having won in four of his seven career starts, including clinching a $2 million purse at the UAE Derby on March 31 at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. Adain O’Brien, the horse’s trainer, is also one of the most well versed and successful horse trainers in the recent history of the Derby, having coached six horses at “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” in his career. Mendelssohn’s parentage is similarly impressive, as his sire, Scat Daddy (also the father of fellow 2018 Kentucky Derby competitor Justify) was rated as the third most likely horse to win the 2007 Derby but suffered a career ending injury, and his mother is Leslie’s Lady, the 2015 Broodmare of the Year. This combination of personal success, quality training and excellent parentage makes Mendelssohn one of the best horses to watch at the upcoming running of the Kentucky Derby, and you would be hard pressed to find a more deserving horse to bet on, considering the +500 moneyline odds available on him.


2018 Kentucky Derby Profile


  • Sex and Color: Bay Colt
  • Foaled: February 19, 2015 (New York)
  • Sire: Into Mischief
  • Dam: Blue Devil Bel
  • Owner: WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd. and SF Racing LLC
  • Trainer: Todd A. Pletcher
  • Breeder: Oak Bluff Stables, LLC
  • Jockey: Ryan L. Moore
  • Earnings: $882,920
  • Record (Starts-Firsts-Seconds-Thirds): 5-4-0-1
  • Kentucky Derby Leaderboard: 2
  • Current Betting Odds: +650 at

Audible’s rivals will no doubt be able to hear this hard charging horse coming on Derby Day 2018, and last year’s Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher has well and truly got his colt ready for this year’s running of the “Race for the Roses” too. Audible’s parentage consists of sire Into Mischief, the father of the champion 2-year-old horses in 2016 and 3-year-olds in 2017 - himself the son of 2002 Kentucky Derby favorite Harlan’s Holiday – and dam Blue Devil Bel, a prize winning broodmare in her own right. Perhaps the only factor in terms of his better than average pedigree that could hold Audible back is that his father and grandfather are not widely known for having much too offer at racing distances longer than 9 furlongs. Being that the Kentucky Derby clocks in at 10 furlongs or 1 ¼ miles in length, this New York colt will have a lot to prove come May. Still, Audible has shown himself to be a capable finisher at progressively lengthier races leading up to a sterling win by five lengths at the Florida Derby, so he remains a horse to watch at Churchill Downs.

Bolt d’Oro

2018 Kentucky Derby Profile

Bolt d’Oro

  • Sex and Color: Bay Colt
  • Foaled: March 17, 2015 (Kentucky)
  • Sire: Medaglia d’Oro
  • Dam: Globe Trot
  • Owner: Ruis Racing, LLC
  • Trainer: Mick Ruis
  • Breeder: WinStar Farm, LLC
  • Jockey: Javier Castellano
  • Earnings: $1,016,000
  • Record (Starts-Firsts-Seconds-Thirds): 6-4-1-1
  • Kentucky Derby Leaderboard: 6
  • Current Betting Odds: +575 at

Bolt d’Oro established himself as one of the top horses in the running to claim victory in the 2018 edition of the Kentucky Derby, especially after San Felipe Stakes winner McKenzie – which only narrowly defeated Bolt down the stretch – was disqualified. The Kentucky born and bred Bolt d’Oro has already nabbed first place in his five career starts and is looking to do the same when he makes his route length debut at Churchill Downs in early May. At any rate, he is already shaping up to be one of the favorite colts in the field for horseplayers to bet on, with +575 odds at the racebook. Bolt d’Oro is of truly elite caliber breeding stock: his sire, Medaglia d’Oro, was the father of Hall of Fame filly and the winner of the 2009 Preakness Stakes, Rachel Alexandra, and of seven different Grade 1 winners among colts in 2017 as well. Medaglia’s kids have all had impressive stamina on their side, and their little brother Bolt d’Oro is no different in that regard, but his rider, the experienced jockey Javier Castellano, contends that his mount boasts a turn of speed that his siblings tended to lack. Credit that to his award winning mother, the bodily fine but somewhat overlooked dam Globe Trot.

Good Magic

2018 Kentucky Derby Profile

Good Magic

  • Sex and Color: Chestnut Colt
  • Foaled: March 01, 2015 (Kentucky)
  • Sire: Curlin
  • Dam: Glinda the Good
  • Owner: e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables, LLC Trainer: Chad C. Brown
  • Trainer: Chad C. Brown
  • Breeder: Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, LLC
  • Jockey: Jose L. Ortiz
  • Earnings: $1,855,000
  • Record (Starts-Firsts-Seconds-Thirds): 5-2-2-1
  • Kentucky Derby Leaderboard: 1
  • Current Betting Odds: +825 at

Good Magic is one of the horses that has truly put a spell on horseplayers and fans of the equine sports in recent years, having won the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Blue Grass Stakes and Keeneland races just a month prior to the start of the 2018 edition of the Kentucky Derby. This Kentucky chestnut colt had some other good finishes in his career, claiming second in 2017 at the Champagne Stakes at Belmont, along with a third place showing at the Fountain of Youth classic, though he was heavily favored to win that particular race. This combination of good results made him a clear choice for the top spot on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, though his lack of outright wins as a three year old horse have him assigned with slightly lower odds by the bookmakers at the leading online racebook (+825 on the moneyline as of this writing). Good Magic’s father, the majestic Curlin (the winner of two consecutive Horse of the Year awards in his race career), is notable for having placed in the top three spots in all three of the 2007 Triple Crown races, including a win at the Preakness Stakes. His mother, Glinda the Good, had success at distances greater than a mile in length and honest acceleration too, so Good Magic should have what it takes for the 10 furlongs of the “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports.”


2018 Kentucky Derby Profile


  • Sex and Color: Bay Colt
  • Foaled: March 27, 2015 (Kentucky)
  • Sire: Curlin
  • Dam: Temptress
  • Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC
  • Trainer: Steven M. Asmussen
  • Breeder: Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC
  • Jockey: Victor Espinoza
  • Earnings: $124,000
  • Record (Starts-Firsts-Seconds-Thirds): 3-2-0-0
  • Kentucky Derby Leaderboard: NOT RANKED IN TOP 10
  • Current Betting Odds: N/A

Even though he is not currently available for betting at any of the top legal offshore racebook sites like or, and although you won’t yet find him on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, Tenfold is definitely one of the colts to watch in the upcoming 2018 edition of the “Run for the Roses.” How can that be, exactly? Well, for starters, look no further than the young horse’s parents. His father, Curlin (which also sired fellow ’18 Kentucky Derby qualifier Good Magic), won two Horse of the Year Awards in a row in 2006 and 2007, and – more impressively – won the Preakness Stakes in ’07 while finishing third in that year’s Kentucky Derby and second at the Belmont Stakes. Tenfold’s mother, the prized broodmare Temptress, was far from the best in shorter races but was a top three finisher in every race longer than eight furlongs that she ever ran. Tenfold’s jockey Victor Espinoza was the same rider who took American Pharoah through many of that steed’s successes a decade or so ago. Then there are his own achievements – three starts and two first place finishes, both on two turn races of 1 1/16 miles. It’s a bit of a long shot for this lightly raced horse, but Tenfold may be the sleeper going into the Kentucky Derby this year, so look for the odds on him to pop close to the top.

Kentucky Derby History

As the most revered horse race (or any kind of race, for that matter) in the world, the Kentucky Derby history is a rich one, full of triumphs and heartbreaks, legends and laffers, big money wins and cataclysmic losses.

Founded in 1875 by Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. (grandson of William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame), the Kentucky Derby was originally a product of Clark’s Louisville Jockey Club and Driving Park Association in Louisville, KY. The racetrack and its attendant facilities were commonly called Churchill Downs (for John and Henry Churchill, who made the land available), though that wouldn’t be its official name until incorporating in 1937.

The Kentucky Derby was the marquee event in the first year of Clark’s expedition, as it was run at Churchill Downs practically as soon as the stables opened in 1875. As such, the Kentucky Derby actually predates Major League Baseball by a year, making it America’s oldest major sporting institution.

The Kentucky Derby has been run 144 times, with the race being held each year since the series’ inception. There have thus been 144 different Kentucky Derby winners, and 132 of them (92%) have been colts. Three-year-old geldings and fillies are allowed to compete as well, but they historically don’t fare well against colts in the field. (Only 9 geldings and 3 fillies have ever won the Kentucky Derby.)

Famous Kentucky Derby Winners

There have been a number of famous Kentucky Derby winners over the years, including 13 horses that would go on to win the Triple Crown. Noteworthy horses include:

  • 1875 – Aristides, the first Kentucky Derby winner
  • 1915 – Regret, the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby
  • 1913 – Donerail, the longest-shot winner (+9100)
  • 1919 - Sir Barton, the first Triple Crown winner
  • 1968 - Dancer’s Image, the first horse to win the Derby and later be disqualified for failing a drug test, with the title going to runner-up Forward Pass
  • 2006 – Barbaro, the overwhelming Triple Crown favorite who had to be euthanized after breaking his right hind leg in the Preakness Stakes
  • 2015 - American Pharoah, the first horse to win the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing
  • 2018 - Justify, the last Triple Crown winner to date

There are multitudes of other notable horses when it comes to famous Kentucky Derby winners. Of course, the most dominant and respected racehorse of all time – Secretariat – got the public’s attention for the first time at the Kentucky Derby (1973) before taking the Triple Crown, and Triple Crown winners are invariably the cream of the crop when it comes to the Kentucky Derby’s vast, rich history. That said, no Triple Crown winner is likely to ever surpass Secretariat, who still owns all three course records.

The Triple Crown

The Triple Crown is considered the jewel of not only American Thoroughbred horse racing, but the biggest event in the sport worldwide. With a global audience that spends its summers wagering on whether or not the next great horse will rise through the ranks, it’s no wonder that the Kentucky Derby – the first leg of the Triple Crown – is such a hot commodity in the sports betting world.

Since a horse must win the 10-furlong Kentucky Derby in order to even contend for the Triple Crown, the KY race is often the first time most sports bettors and pony fans get a really good look at the elites in the year’s field. If a favorite (or near-favorite) wins the Derby, the betting action – and general mainstream intrigue – will be high for the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes (9.5 furlongs), which is held in Baltimore, MD, at Pimlico Race Course on the third Saturday of May, exactly two weeks after the Derby.

If the Derby winner takes the Preakness (which is actually a common occurrence), the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY, becomes the ultimate proving ground. As the last leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes is the longest race of the three, separating the sprinters from the marathon runners in a way that makes it extremely difficult for Kentucky Derby or Preakness champions to come out on top.

The general dearth of Triple Crown winners is almost entirely due to the Belmont’s 12-furlong distance, though some argument may be made that the combined exhaustion of three world-class races in just over a month’s time is also a significant factor. No matter what the reason, however, the simple fact remains: When it comes to the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness are one thing, but the Belmont Stakes is something else altogether.

Famous Jockeys To Win The Kentucky Derby

There are several famous jockeys to win the Kentucky Derby, although they usually get far less credit than their horses. (Fair or not, the jockeys are certainly less majestic than their mounts, that’s for sure.) However, a good horse needs an experienced, talented jockey to be truly successful, and several such professional horse racing riders have won the Kentucky Derby multiple times apiece.

Some of the highest-profile jockeys in history include Bill Hartack, Eddie Arcaro, Bill Shoemaker, Victor Espinoza, and Calvin Borel, the last of whom became a household name after a dominant run of Derby victories in the late 2000s. Hartack and Arcaro share the current record with five career Kentucky Derby wins each.

Bill Hartack

Eddie Arcaro

Bill Shoemaker

Victor Espinoza

Calvin Borel

Going To The Kentucky Derby

If you’re planning on going to the Kentucky Derby – and all horse racing fans owe it to themselves to visit Churchill Downs for the big event at least once in their lives – it’s best to get your tickets and accommodations squared away ahead of time. Not only is the Kentucky Derby the most popular horse racing event for broadcast viewers the world over, it also boasts among the highest US attendance of any sporting event. Including the infield, the total spectator capacity at Churchill Downs is 170,000, making it the third largest venue in America behind the Indianapolis and Texas Motor Speedways.

The best Kentucky Derby seats obviously go fastest, but general admission to the event (which offers infield access but a very limited view of the racetrack itself) is typically only about $70 per person. Grandstand seating, on the other hand, varies from about $200 to well over $5000 for each ticket. In addition to booking your event tickets early, it’s also crucial that you make hotel reservations in the Louisville area ASAP, as these get sold out far sooner than the big race.

Even though it can be a costly affair to attend the Kentucky Derby, the experience is worth it. You’ve probably lived through a number of Kentucky Derby previews and broadcasts over the years, but it’s different live and in-person. Make the trip out to Louisville, and can enjoy all the festivities of Derby Week. Even better, no matter how much you spend, you’ll always have a chance to make some cash betting on the Kentucky Derby itself.

Top Racebooks for Kentucky Derby Betting
  • RANK
  • USA?