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There are few bigger race days on the international calendar than the Kentucky Derby. The opening race of the Triple Crown series takes place annually in early May, with the best horses on the dirt competing for their shot at making history.
There will be extra attention on the race in 2024, as the legendary race at Churchill Downs celebrates its 150th anniversary, and there is likely to be a very hot contest to determine the next winner to join legendary victors throughout history.
However, what are some of the tips that all bettors looking to wager on the Derby should consider in order to build the most solid betting strategy?
Find Pace Angles
Examining the pace that could be set in any race is essentially important before picking out likely winners, as a lightning quick speed may not be the best option for those looking at a deep-closer, especially in a race such as the Kentucky Derby.
However, pace also isn’t an angle that many choose to opt with when it comes to Derby selections, as wire-to-wire winners have been very rare throughout history. It is also worth mentioning that runners competing for the lead may also get tired earlier if they are forced to work hard to gain their position from another runner.
Therefore, it is always important to assess the runners that will sit just off the pace and opt to hold a good position while saving energy for when the action heats up turning into the straight. Tactical speed is also very important when assessing potential Derby runners, but it isn’t the most essential factor, as this will likely be more important in the far more tactical affair of the Belmont Stakes.
The Kentucky Derby will likely be the longest race that many of the runners in the field have ever competed in, but the stamina of potential runners can be found by looking through the sires and dams of the selections in the field.
The prep races on the route to the Kentucky Derby range in distances, and these should also be essential reading before any selection is made. Bettors should overlook runners that have only competed over sprint distances, as these runners are unlikely to pose the stamina required to stay competitive in the final stages of the Tripe Crown race.
Many of the big championship preps are staged over longer distances, and these should be considered before making a selection. Bettors should watch the races in full, and look out for the runners that are finishing the strongest in the field, as that could highlight that they will excel over even further.
Experience at the highest level counts for a lot, especially in the Kentucky Derby. There will be little to separate the leading contenders in the betting by the time that the race comes around, as all with have form in graded company. Therefore, the jockey bookings could make for very important reading.
Most jockeys will have the choice of a number of rides in the Derby, and their choice could pinpoint the most likely chance of a winner. Bettors should also examine the records of trainers and jockeys in the famous race, with those with a strong record all holding better chances than those that could be making their debut.
Jockeys that have a winning record, or at least a proven record of places, should be considered very hard by bettors before making a selection, as they will know exactly what it takes to win the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
You can check all the past winners here: https://www.twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/winners/
Favourites Don’t Always Win
The betting market will always pinpoint the most likely winner of any race, and that is no different when it comes to the Kentucky Derby. However, favourites haven’t had the best record in the opening leg of the Triple Crown in recent years, as there hasn’t been a winning favourite since Justify in 2018.
But, it also worth mentioning that three of the last four winners have been within the top five in the betting, which means that it always isn’t the best option to be looking for the biggest priced selection. Rich Strike remains the biggest-priced winner of the race in recent memory, with the 2022 shock winner landing victory at odds of 81/1 for Sonny Leon and Eric Reed. Favourites previously had a very strong record in the race between 2014 and 2018, with each of the five market leaders between that period landing victories.
However, since then, Country House has also won the Derby at odds of 65/1. Therefore, bettors should never be put off by a price if they like the chances of a potential outsider. But, it is always worth considering any other markets before making a fine selection.