HomeThe Shuffle20-Horse Field Makes Kentucky Derby a One-of-a-Kind Betting Opportunity

20-Horse Field Makes Kentucky Derby a One-of-a-Kind Betting Opportunity

Kentucky Derby season is here, with the Run for the Roses just weeks away. Here are a few tips to help with your betting strategy.

The Kentucky Derby is a unique race in North America. At a mile and a quarter, it’s the longest distance any three-year-old thoroughbred will have run at this point in its career. The longest of the Triple Crown races is one month later at the Belmont Stakes, which is a mile and a half.

The Kentucky Derby has a 20-horse field, so betting possibilities—and the chance for big payoffs—increase dramatically over the typical 12-horse field maximum.

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Wheeling Up and Back

If I like a horse in any race and the horse is 3-1 odds or higher, instead of betting that horse in a win-and-place scenario, I wheel the horse up and back in the exactas. If it wins, I hit the exacta. If it runs second, I hit the exacta. You’re going to lose a bunch of tickets because you’re wheeling, and there will be a lot of dead tickets. But it does open up the possibilities for larger-than-normal payouts.

In Breeders’ Cup and Kentucky Derby races, I’ve been lucky to have wheeled horses up and back in the exacta and hit some really big numbers, even with a 10-1 or 15-1 shot running second. Hitting $1,000 exactas for a $1 bet is a possibility when the number of betting slots increase.

For a 20-horse field, the first way I attack betting the Kentucky Derby is with my top pick. Even if the horse is the favorite, I wheel it up and back in the exacta for $1, which would be a $38 investment if there are 20 betting interests. You’d be surprised at the payoff, especially in a large field, and especially if the horse isn’t favored. That’s why I say in a normal betting scenario, only attack a race that way if the horse is 3-1 odds or over. If the horse isn’t favored, it increases all the payouts for the exotics. The favorites are always overbet in the exotics.

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Who is Eligible for the Kentucky Derby Gate?

Eligibility for the Kentucky Derby involves a point system in which horses must compete in one of several prep races. The cutoff is about 40 points to get in, so if a horse wins a 50-point race, it’s in. In a 100-point race, the Top 2 finishers (100-40 points) are virtually guaranteed starting spots in Louisville.

The 50-point races have already been contested, with winners as follows:

  • February 19 Risen Star (Epicenter, 98 Beyer speed figure)
  • February 26 Rebel (Un Ojo, 84)
  • March 5 Fountain of Youth (Simplification, 96)
  • March 5 Gotham (Morello, 96)
  • March 5 San Felipe (Forbidden Kingdom, 98)
  • March 12 Tampa Bay Derby (Classic Causeway, 84)
  • March 27 Sunland Derby (Slow Down Andy, 86)

There are six more 100-point races, in which a horse in the Top 2 has a strong chance to be in. They are:

  • April 2 Florida Derby
  • April 2 Arkansas Derby
  • April 2 Jeff Ruby Steaks
  • April 9 Wood Memorial
  • April 9 Blue Grass Stakes
    April 9 Santa Anita Derby

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The first two 100-pointers were last weekend. In the March 26 UAE Derby, Crown Pride was first (100 points) and Summer is Tomorrow was second (40 points). In the Louisiana Derby, Epicenter was first (100 points) and Zozos was second (40 points).

In this spot in the coming weeks, we’ll break down the horses that have impressed us heading into the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby, May 7, 2022 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Current 2022 Kentucky Derby Odds*

  • Smile Happy 6-1
  • Forbidden Kingdom 7-1
  • Epicenter 8-1
  • Morello 10-1
  • Mo Donegal 12-1
  • Simplification 12-1
  • Zandon 12-1
  • White Abarrio 15-1
  • Classic Causeway 15-1
  • Emmanuel 15-1
  • Rattle N Roll 20-1
  • Early Voting 30-1
  • In Due Time 30-1
  • Pioneer of Medina 30-1
  • Charge It 30-1
  • Call Me Midnight 50-1
  • Barber Road 50-1
  • Cyberknife 50-1
  • Ethereal Road 50-1
  • Major General 50-1
  • Shipsational 50-1
  • Un Ojo 50-1
  • Zozos 50-1
  • All other three-year-olds 6-1

*Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. Subject to change

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