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Kentucky Derby Betting: The Top Guide

The most famous race in North America, it is one that every trainer and jockey from the other side of the Atlantic wants to win. This Kentucky Derby betting guide will give you all the information you need in order to be successful. We will be looking at the best bookies, their offers and promotions, odds, live streaming and other facets. What’s more, we will take a look at the history of the race itself in order for you to get a top insight on the race, so you can bet with confidence!

Page topics: click to go to your favourite topic!
Kentucky Derby
Best bookmakers for the Kentucky Derby

Discover their characteristics


How we choose the bookies

Under Over

Win, Each-Way, Show Bet


Country House, Maximum Security & others

Big names

Bill Hartack, Ben A. Jones


Facts, stories and betting


Your questions answered

Our advice is to read through every section thoroughly, in order to keep yourself fully informed. However, if you want you can click on your preferred topic above and go straight to it! Keep on reading and you are sure to find everything you need to become a top punter.

Betting on the Kentucky Derby: The Top 5 Operators

When it comes to betting on the Kentucky Derby you only want to use the very best sites. That’s why our experts went to the trouble to create a list of the top 5, which you can find below. In order to do this, they used a list of stringent criteria which we will go into detail on, if you carry on reading.

The top 5 Kentucky Derby Sportsbooks
Bookmaker Bonus Offer Features Rating Secure Link T&C’s
Up to £10 14+ 93.88% 5/5 Visit Site! Full T&Cs Apply! *New customers only. Min Deposit: £10. First deposit matched up to £10. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Debit Card & PayPal deposits only. This offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered.
Up to £20 11+ 92.48% 4.5/5 Visit Site! Full T&Cs Apply! New customers only, min deposit and bet £10 (£20 if E/W bet) from UK Debit card only. Paypal not accepted. Min odds evens (1/5 per multi selection). 2 x £10 Free Bets valid for 7 days, stake not returned, no cash out
Up to £20 13+ 91.65% 4.5/5 Visit Site! Full T&Cs Apply! 18+ New UK+IRE customers. Paypal and certain deposit types and bet types excluded. Min €5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x €5 free bets. Free bets valid for 4 days on sports, stake not returned, restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.
Up to £30 11+ 91.77% 4.5/5 Visit Site! Full T&Cs Apply! New online customers only, min £10/€10 stake, win only, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 3 X £10/€10, 30 day expiry, free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply.
Up to £20 12+ 91.99% 4/5 Visit Site! Full T&Cs Apply! 18+. UK+IRE only. Min first bet £5 at odds 1/2 or more. Tote and Pool excluded. Must be placed within 14 days of account reg. £20 credited as 4 x £5 free bets. Not valid with CashOut. Free bet valid for 4 days. Free bet stake not returned.

How we Chose the Best Bookmakers for the Kentucky Derby

When choosing Kentucky Derby betting sites, our experts always look out for the following set of criteria listed below. Now, they are not the only things we look at, however they serve as very good baseline to asses a site in a quick and effective manner.

As you see, things like payouts, dedicated promotions, the availabilty of live streaming, and the type of markets you can bet on all rank high on our list. Why is that exactly? Well, below we will provide in-depth explanations for each category we have mentioned.

The Importance of Payouts

We expect the very best Kentucky Derby bookmakers to offer a high payout. This is because the higher the percentage offered, the more money you receive on your bet. Our experts calculated this, as explained on our home page, and found very similar results from the top players. Anything markedly above or below this, should raise suspicions, as it either means they are trying to tempt you with unrealistic offers, or trying to skim money off of you.

Best Kentucky Derby Betting Offers

In the lead up to the race, Kentucky Derby betting offers should become a key component of the sportsbook. Of course, you can always use the bonuses that are always provided; however, it is best when dedicate promotions are available. Things like enhanced odds, paying up to six places, or money back are all common place. So, we’d say keep an eye out in the weeks leading up to the event, and the top operators should be advertising such things.

Live Betting and Streaming

For most sports, live betting is an integral facet, however horse racing regulations generally mean only pre-race markets are available. Nevertheless, the area in which the top online operators can flourish is with live streaming. The best Kentucky Derby betting sites will always show a live feed of the race. This is great for the everyday punter as there is nothing better than seeing your horse cross the post fourth lengths ahead and you knowing instantly you have a big winner on your hands!

Number of Markets Available

Another thing we check for and place emphasis on is the number of markets available to bet on. This is because the more choice you have, the better you Kentucky Derby betting experience will be. There’s nothing worse than wanting to place a specific bet, and not being able to find it on the online bookmaker you are using. That is why those with the most choice score very highly with us, and the ones we have listed will have everything you are looking for.

Kentucky Derby Betting Aspects

The Type of Kentucky Derby Markets

In this section we will now go into detail on the type of markets and bets you can place on the race. This can range from the simpler ‘straight bets’, to the ‘exotic bets’ that require more knowledge and luck! Below, you will find a description of some of the betting markets for this race, if you want a general overview of the sport, check out or dedicated horse racing page. Otherwise, keep on reading!

Straight Bets

The so-called ‘straight-bets’ are the ones that every punter can easily play, no matter their experience. They are generally very simple to place, and do not require in-depth knowledge. They are often suited for the more casual bettor, or those that want to place a quick wager and get on their way.

Fantastic sign-up bonus Great odds on offer Top race markets offered
Bonus up to £10
Full T&Cs Apply! *New customers only. Min Deposit: £10. First deposit matched up to £10. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bet. Debit Card & PayPal deposits only. This offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered.

The Win Bet

The absolute easiest bet of this type is the ‘win bet’. All you need to do here is select a winner of the race. If the horse you have chosen wins, then you win. It’s that easy! Nevertheless, it must be noted that the odds for this type of bet are generally pretty low, so don’t expect massive wins if you do predict the correct outcome!

The Place Bet

Another simple wager is the ‘place bet’. This is an extension of the previous ‘win bet’, in that you choose one horse, instead this time it can either finish in first or second for you to win and receive a return. Naturally, as there is more opportunity for you to win, the odds are even lower. However, this is a good bet, if you like the chance of an outside horse and aren’t sure if they will win outright.

The Each-Way Bet

The each-way bet is the favourite type of bet amongst horse racing enthusiasts. It is essentially a combination of the win bet and the place bet. You choose a horse, and place two separate bets, one for the horse to win, and one for the horse to place (usually from positions 1-4). It’s a great bet as if offers you an extended chance to see a return, and for horse with long odds you can win pretty big. It’s always good to see the horses with good form, or check the surface they are running on, and you have a good chance of at least selecting a horse to place.

Exotic bets on the Kentucky Derby

As their name suggest, ‘exotic bets’ are more advance. They tend to be used by those wanting to win big, and by more experience and knowledgeable punters. That’s not to say inexperienced bettors can’t use them, you’ll just need a bit more luck than is already required! Check out the specific types of bet below!

The Tricast Bet

Three horses running The tricast bet is quite difficult to predict correctly. You have to choose three horses from the field that will finish in the exact position of first, second, and third. The returns for this will be massive, however the chances of this happening are pretty low, so lots of research is required and in-depth knowledge of the field also helps. Even then, luck still needs to be on your side for a winner to be had! With this luck, you will be the talk of the town and you will be able to celebrate in style. It’s a hard bet to win, but it is worth it when it comes off!

The Forecast Bet

Two horses running The forecast bet, sometimes known as an exacta – particularly in the US – is similar to the aforementioned bet, however, you only need to choose two horses for this one. Then place them in the exact order of first and second. This pays out less than the previous one, however, as you only need the top-two it naturally has a higher chance of being successful. It would be perhaps pertinent to say, this wager is stepping stone to the next one. It has become one of the most popular bets in the sport and many punters will try to use this over any other.

Superfecta bet

Four horses running The most advanced of the exotic bets, the superfecta or fourcast bet, is incredibly difficult to win. Here you have to choose the top four horses in exact order. That means, first, second, third, and fourth. The odds for this will generally be astronomical, it’s and insanely difficult wager to be successful on, however, if you do correctly predict the result, then you will have a humongous payout to be satisfied with! We’ve all heard the stories of the big winners, and with a little luck and effort, it may be your turn next to celebrate a crazy win.

All you Need to Know about the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby info
Churchill Downs racecourse
Nome: The Kentucky Derby
Headquarters: Churchill Downs, Louisville
Year of foundation: 1875
Sponsor: Woodford Reserve
Website: www.kentuckyderby.com
Race Type: Grade I Stakes Race
Surface: Dirt
Prize Money: $3 million

The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race specifically for three-year-old thoroughbreds. It is the grand finale of the two-week Kentucky Derby Festival that draws massive crowds every year. The race takes place on the first Saturday in May every year and has been held since 1875. The US describes it as the ‘most exciting two minutes in sport’ due to the nature of unpredictability and the excitement it draws from the onlooking crowd. In 2019 a crowd of over 165,000 watched the race and it is the most popular race in North America. The race is held at Chruchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky.

The total prize money is $3 million, with the winner receiving $1,860,000. The distance is a total 1 1/4 miles, (10 furlongs), and the track is made of dirt. Depending on the weather this means the track can be either fast, or muddy, and is something that brings an air of unpredictability to the race. It is also the first leg of the American Triple Crown, where a horse must win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes to be crowned. It’s a race that has produced many legends throughout the years, with both jockeys and trainers wanting to get the title. There is also the tradition of the paddock judge shouting “Riders Up!” in order for them to mount their horses before the race begins.

It’s a great race and is so exciting and is something the sport of horse racing needs in order to continue prospering. Although it’s over in a flash, the build-up, the excitement and more just make it a pleasure to watch.

The official channel of the Kentucky Derby

All the info on the Horses of the Kentucky Derby

As the race is only open to three-year-old horses there has never been a repeat winner. Nevertheless, some legends have been produced, and many trainers and jockeys have received notoriety for being the best. Many horses that won from the back or ran extremely fast are still remembered by the crowds to this day and will always stay in the folklore of the Kentucky Derby.

The Past 5 Placed Winners

Below you can find the past five results for the race including the top three placed winners. You will notice that many horses have had similar trainers in the past, and the same names always seem to pop-up. This is not a coincidence and signals that some have valuable experience that owners trust in order to train their horses.

Placed finisher for Kentucky Derby in the past 5 years
Year 1st (Horse, Trainer) 2nd (Horse, Trainer) 3rd (Horse, Trainer)
2019 Country House, William I. Mott Code of Honor, Claude R. McGaughey Tacitus, William I. Mott
2018 Justify, Bob Baffert Good Magic, Chad Brown Audible, Todd Pletcher
2017 Always Dreaming, Todd Pletcher Lookin At Lee, Steve Asmussen Battle of Midway, Jerry Hollendorfer
2016 Nyquist, Doug O’Neill Exaggerator, J. Keith Desormeaux Gun Runner, Steve Asmussen
2015 American Pharoah, Bob Baffert Firing Line, Simon Callaghan Dortmund, Bob Baffert

Who are the Best Trainers?

Perhaps the most famous trainer of them all is Bob Baffert. In 2018 he trained the horse Justify who went on to win the Triple Crown. In 2015 he did this with American Pharoah, and since 1997 has won the Derby 5 times. He truly is a legend of American racing and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame. If an upcoming trainer wants to emulate anyone it will be this legend of a man.

The Best Horses of Kentucky Derby

As there new horses every year, it is sometimes difficult to talk about the best horses. The ones listed below are either recent winners, or simply the best to ever have ridden the course. Check the boxes out now for some more detailed information!

  • Country House
    Country House

    Country House was the 2019 winner of the Derby. Although technically he finished 2nd, he won the race after a disqualification.

  • Secretariat

    Possibly the most famous of all the horse to run the Kentucky Derby, Secretariat won in 1973 went on to win the Triple Crown and still holds the racec record.

  • Nyquist

    A fifth generation descendant of Secretariat, Nyquist won the 2016 race by 1 and a quarter lengths, in an impressive victory that will long be remembered.

Legends of the Past

The race has produced many legends, whether it be horses or jockeys. From Secretariat to Justify the crowds will always remember the pulsating finishes and big wins. In the following paragraphs we will highlight some records, and other crazy stats that have created these heroes.

The Horses with the Fastest Wins

The race often finishes within or around two minutes. In recent years sloppy and wet conditions meant that the races took a few seconds longer. The fastest ever races are listed below, and as you’ll see there have only ever been two winners that have finished in a sub two-minute race. It remains to be seen if the top time will ever be beaten, but in recent years it hasn’t look like it will ever be challenged.

Horses that have won the fastest Kentucky Derby titles
Horse Time Track Condition Owner Year
Secretariat 1:59.40 Fast Chris Chenery 1973
Monarchos 1:59.97 Fast John C. Oxley 2001
Northern Dancer 2:00.00 Fast Windfields Farm 1964
Spend a Buck 2:00.20 Fast Hunter Farm 1985
Decidedly 2:00.40 Fast El Peco Ranch 1962
Proud Clarion 2:00.60 Fast Darby Dan Farm 1967

Kentucky Derby Records

In the boxes below you will find some the most amazing records for the race. These facts and anecdotes will serve you well in any future trivia quizzes and will also help you in understanding the complexity of the race and what it takes to be a champion here. Check them out below!

  • Ben A. Jones
    Most Wins by a Trainer

    Between 1938-1952 Ben A. Jones produced a whopping six winners. To this day it is still to be beaten, and he is a Hall of Fame trainer.

  • Secretariat
    The Quickest Horse

    The quickest ever horse at the Kentucky Derby was Secretariat, who in 1973, won in an astonishing time of 1:59.40. It looks set never to be beaten.

  • Bill Hartack
    Most Wins by a Jockey

    Bill Hartack is the jockey with the joint most wins at the Kentucky Derby. He rode first past the post 5 times between 1957-1969. A true great of his era.

History of the Kentucky Derby and Betting

Starting in 1875 the race has a deep history. Naturally, Kentucky Derby betting has been intertwined with this. The first race had 10,000 spectators and nowadays that has burgeoned to 160,000 plus. With these crowds comes the desire the place a wager on the race. In 1908 bookmakers were outlawed and pari-mutuel betting became the norm. In 1911 a betting booth was installed and continued to grow. In 1984, the race was simulcast to 24 racetracks across the nation and a total of $18 million was wagered. The race has continued to grow and below you can find our handy infographic that documents the history of the race and betting for you to gain even more knowledge!

The history of the Kentucky Derby infographic

Discover the Best Bookies for the Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby and Bookmakers Sponsorship

Due to laws in the United States, online betting is generally not allowed. Therefore, there aren’t many noticeable sponsorships of the event, instead these are left for non-gambling companies. Currently, the race is sponsored by Woodford Reserve, and unless there are any changes to the law and regulations it remains hard to foresee any prominent bookmakers getting sponsorship deals for the event in the near future.

Which Bookies Should you Avoid?

When betting on the Kentucky Derby it is important to know which bookies, you should avoid using. It goes without saying that those who aren’t fully regulated and licensed by the UK Gambling Commission should be completely omitted from your usage. Luckily, all the sites listed here are trusted and are fully licensed. What’s more the online bookies we have featured are the best for this specific race, with top coverage and promotions. You don’t want to waste time searching around, so stick with us and you won’t go far wrong.

Facts and Anecdotes about Betting on Kentucky Derby

As we are coming to an end of the review we thought we’d end on a light-hearted tone. With Kentucky Derby betting comes many facts and curiosities. In the boxes below we have collected some of the most outrageous anecdotes when it comes to wagering on the event! Check them out below.

  • Dollar notes
    Big money spent on the race

    In 2019 a whopping $165.5 million was wagered on the Kentucky Derby, a 10 percent increase from the year before where $149.9 million was recorded.

  • Picture of a crown
    The favourite is King

    Between 2012 and 2018 the pre-race betting favourite won the race. This six-year streak was the longest since 1972-1975!

  • Money falling everywhere
    Exacta payoff

    In 2005 the exacta bet (named forecast in England) paid off big with Giacomo (50/1) and Closing Argument (71/1) combining for a $2 payoff of $9,814.80.

Bob Lewis

To win the Kentucky Derby is the goal of every trainer, every hot-walker, every backside person. They may be just rubbing on a horse, or hot-walking a horse, but they wonder if they could win the Kentucky Derby.

Bob Lewis


Now we have finished with our look at the Kentucky Derby, we have covered everything that is of importance. If you still have some questions, please read the FAQ below or feel free to send us an email. at info@bestbettingsites.com.

Can I bet on the Kentucky Derby from the UK?

Yes, of course. All the bookies here are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. The event takes place in the US, however the sportsbooks located in the UK provide a market for you to bet on.

Can I find dedicated promotions for the race?

Yes, in the run up to the event be sure to check on the website of your preferred operator, they will more than likely have some sort of promotion for the race.