Kentucky Derby Betting Guide

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most time-honored events in the sports world. Not to mention it is the biggest horse racing event in the United States every year. The Kentucky Derby has been running since 1875, and in 2020 the 146th Derby was run. The Kentucky Derby features the best of the best when it comes to horse racing, and the best part is you can legally bet on it from anywhere.

Illinois has allowed betting on horse races since 1927. Specifically, pari-mutuel betting has been legal since then. With sports betting at an all-time high in the state, betting on horse races also increases in popularity. While pari-mutuel betting is one of the oldest forms of legal gambling, it can be complicated to understand, but this article will break it down. This article will also discuss how to bet on the Kentucky Derby, what types of bets you can place, and provide some history of the event.

How to bet on the Kentucky Derby in Illinois

Betting on the Kentucky Derby is an old tradition in the US. When all other sports betting became illegal, pari-mutuel betting on horses became the only legal way to gamble on sports. The Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978 allowed tracks to broadcast races and take wagers from out-of-state bettors, which changed everything. Now you could wager on the Kentucky Derby from anywhere in the US. As time passed and technology improved, betting on the Kentucky Derby only became easier.

Before the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978, a sports bettor had to physically be at the track in which they wanted to wager. Luckily that is no longer the case, but betting at the teller is still available at almost every US track. Betting at the teller can be nice as you get to watch the races live and in-person, but it is not necessary to place a bet.

After the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978 was passed, sports bettors no longer had to be at the physical track to place wagers on the Kentucky Derby. There were various places you could wager on the races, but mainly it was at other tracks. While this was revolutionary at the time, in today’s world, it would still mean you would have to drive to the closest off-track betting location to you. This could be close in some cases and far in others.

Today, with the technology we have, you don’t have to go anywhere as we have several online sites and mobile betting apps that accept wagers on horse races. The top site/mobile app to bet the Kentucky Derby on is TVG (Television Games Network). TVG is the best place to wager on horses because, for one, it is simple to navigate and place your wagers. It also provides expert analysis and statistics for bettors. Finally, and perhaps the best part is they broadcast almost every horse race that happens around the world. If you want to bet on the Kentucky Derby and are not physically there, you have to check out

Different types of horse racing bets

Betting on horses can seem complicated at first, but it is really simple once you break it down. Luckily we have an article that covers all of the different types of bets HERE. For this article, we will touch on the basics of the types of horse bets available.

Straight bets

Straight bets are simple and straightforward wagers. There are a few different kinds of Straight-Bets in horse racing like Win Wager, Place Wager, and Show Wager.

  • Win Wager: This is when you choose the exact horse to win the race.
  • Place Wager: This is when you choose a horse that will place in first or second.
  • Show Wager: This is when you choose a horse that will finish in first, second, or third.

Exotic Wagers

Exotic wagers closely resemble parlays in traditional sports betting. This is because, for these types of bets to hit, you need two or more horses to be selected correctly. There are multiple types of Exotic Wagers, and here are the basics of them.

  • Exacta: A sports bettor selects two horses to finish in exactly first and second place. You can also “box” your bet, and the horses can finish in either order (still first and second) and still win.
  • Quinella: A Quinella bet is the same as an Exacta “box” wager. A sports bettor chooses two horses to place in first and second place; order does not matter.
  • Trifecta: Same as an Exacta, but you choose first, second, and third. You can also “box” this wager.
  • Superfecta: Same as a Trifecta, but you choose first, second, third, and fourth. You cannot “box” these wagers.
  • Super Hi-5: Same as a Superfecta, but you choose first through fifth place. You also cannot “box” these wagers.
  • Daily Double: Daily Doubles is when a bettor wagers on what horses will win two consecutive races.
  • Pick 3: Same as a Daily Double but for three consecutive races. Most Tracks also offer Pick 4, 5, and 6.

Again, for more information on how to bet on horse races and best bets for the Kentucky Derby, check out our article HERE.

Kentucky Derby odds

The Kentucky Derby is the premier horse racing event in the US every year. It is a part of the Triple Crown and always draws the best horses in the world. To understand the odds, here’s a look at the 2020 Kentucky Derby betting odds:

  • Tiz the Law 5-8
  • Honor A.P. 6-1
  • Authentic 8-1
  • NY Traffic 16-1
  • Money Moves 18-1
  • Max Player 20-1
  • Enforceable 24-1
  • Sole Volante 35-1
  • Attachment Rate 45-1
  • Storm the Court 45-1
  • South Bend 50-1
  • Major Fed 60-1
  • Mr. Big News 80-1
  • Necker Island 85-1
  • Winning Impression 100-1

Authentic won the 2020 Kentucky Derby at odds of 8-1.

Most impressive wins in Kentucky Derby history

The Kentucky Derby has an illustrious history that has seen several great races and horses. Some of the greatest moments in horse racing history have happened at the Kentucky Derby. For instance, the Kentucky Derby is where the legendary thoroughbred Secretariat broke the record for the fastest Kentucky Derby ever. That legendary run is also the record for the fastest the 1 ¼ mile track at Churchill Downs has been run. Secretariat made that run in 1973 and his time of 1:59.40 is still the fastest lap ever run.

While the Kentucky Derby has seen greatness over the years, the nearly 150-year-old race has not been without controversy. The most controversial finish in the Kentucky Derby’s history came only a few years ago in 2019 when Country House (65-1) won the Derby. What makes the race so controversial is not that a long-shot won necessarily; it was how Country House was declared the winner. The actual horse that finished the race first was Maximum Security (4-1), but the win was stripped. Coming around a turn during the race, Maximum Security, for a brief moment, got out of his lane and then right back in. The judges said that this cut off other horses, and the foul was bad enough to strip the win, which in turn declared Country House the winner. There has been much outrage about this decision, and it is considered the most controversial finish in Kentucky Derby history.

How do horses qualify for the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most prestigious events in horse racing. For horses to get to the Kentucky Derby, they must travel down what is called “The Road to the Kentucky Derby.” “The Road to the Kentucky Derby” consists of several races hosted across the country. Each race awards points to the top four finishers. By the end of the series, the 18 horses with the most points are invited to the Kentucky Derby. There is also a “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby” and a “European Road to the Kentucky Derby.” The horse with the most points in each of these series gets an invite to the Kentucky Derby, bringing the total to 20 horses that run in the race. Those 20 horses will then compete for the purse ($3 million in 2021) and to go down in history as a winner of the Kentucky Derby.

History of the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is the longest-running sporting event in the United States, and it is filled with time-honored traditions. From the clothing spectators wear to singing “My Old Kentucky Home,” the Kentucky Derby is a true spectacle. The Kentucky Derby was also one of the only sporting events that continued through World War I & II. The first Kentucky Derby had a crowd of 10,000 live spectators. The largest turnout in the Kentucky Derby’s history is when 170,513 fans watched American Pharaoh win the race in 2015. The Kentucky Derby is a treasured part of not only horse racing culture but also United States culture, and it should continue for another 150 years.

Kentucky Derby FAQ

When is the Kentucky Derby in 2022?

The 148th Kentucky Derby will be on Saturday, May 7, 2022. The Kentucky Derby is the final event of a two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival.

How many horses run in the race?

The Kentucky Derby has a field size of 20 horses. These 20 horses must compete in a series of races known as “The Road to the Kentucky Derby” to be invited.

How much does the winner of the Kentucky Derby get?

The purse for the 2021 Kentucky Derby was $3 Million. The purse size has increased over time, as the first Kentucky Derby purse was $2,850.

What does it cost to watch the event live?

The price of Kentucky Derby general admission tickets vary but are usually around $100-$120, but these tickets are highly competitive and sell out quickly. Tickets to the Kentucky Derby can get expensive, though, with the highest ticket listed for $21,925 in 2020.

Who was the fastest horse to win the Kentucky Derby?

The Horse with the fastest time in Kentucky Derby History was Secretariat. Secretariat made the famous run in 1973 when he completed the race at 1:59.40.