Horse Race Betting 101: How To Bet On The Kentucky Derby

Written By Veronica Sparks on February 15, 2022 - Last Updated on May 3, 2022

While horse racing is a popular sport with ancient origins, not everyone is an expert. And with large races such as the Pegasus World Cup becoming more of interest to Connecticut residents, it may be time to get to know the sport a little more.

If you’re just getting your feet wet with horse betting in Connecticut, this year’s Kentucky Derby is a great place to start. Here’s how to prepare and place your bet in the Kentucky Derby taking place on Saturday, May 7.

Kentucky Derby 2022 Odds

The Kentucky Derby field is all set with post positions and morning line odds. Zandon has been installed as the top choice at 3-1, followed by Epicenter at 7-2 and Messier at 8-1. The remainder of the field checks in with odds of 10-1 or greater. Here are the full morning line odds for the next derby.


How to prep for Kentucky Derby gambling

Placing a random wager in the race doesn’t result in winnings very often. That’s why it’s important to prepare beforehand so you’re placing a bet that’s likely to win.

Here’s what you can do before placing your bet to increase your chances of a win.

Read the race program

The race’s daily program has a ton of useful information to read and understand before betting. Here are just a handful of tidbits you can find in the program:

  • Horse profile
  • Trainer background
  • Jockey stats/records
  • Racetrack info: Course conditions, race times, past races
  • Betting odds
  • Pedigree and bloodlines

Research the contenders

It’s important to get to know the horses, jockeys, and trainers well before placing your bet. Do a little bit of research before the race to find valuable information that will help you decide how to bet:

  • Watch past races. This will help you to see how the horse performs in different conditions.
  • Read up on jockeys and trainers. Knowing their track record will be valuable.
  • Know the pedigree of horses. Offspring of past winners can fare extremely well.

Consider track conditions

Not only is it important to know about the horses, jockeys, and trainers, it’s also vital to know what’s going on with the track itself.

Weather, track maintenance, and historical racing data for the track are all the valuable information that could impact your bet. For example, knowing how a horse fares in the track’s rainy or hot conditions could make or break your bet.

Additionally, different tracks can mean different race results. Some tracks favor horses with certain running styles.

Review the odds

Understanding racing odds means you understand what your winnings will be for any given bet. Morning line odds are often listed in the race program. These are based on past performances and which horses the oddsmaker feels are most likely to take money from the betting public.

The more likely a contender is to win the race, the lower the morning line odds are. These can change as the public wagers, and often fluctuate right up until post time as more money comes into the pools.

If you bet on a favorite, you may be more likely to win, but you’ll win less money. Betting on a horse with higher odds yields a higher payout if the horse wins.

What are the experts saying?

If you’re planning to bet on the Kentucky Derby, it’s a good idea to know what horse racing experts are saying in the days before the race. Take some time to read relevant articles or follow experts on social media.

Types of Kentucky Derby bets you can place

Now that you’ve prepared to bet on your horse, it’s time to decide which type of bet you’ll place.

Standard bets

Standard wagers are great for those who want to make a simple bet on a single horse. They’re the most basic forms of bets available.

  • Win bets mean you’ve bet money on a specific horse to finish first. If the horse wins, you win your bet.
  • Place bets allow you to bet on a single horse to finish first or second.
  • Show bets allow you to bet on a single horse to finish first, second, or third.

Exotic bets

Exotic bets are a bit more complicated and typically cost a bit more, but they often have big payouts. They’re broken down into either single-race or multi-race bets.


  • Exacta – Select the 1st and 2nd place finishers in that order.
  • Quinella – Select the 1st and 2nd place finishers, but not necessarily in order.
  • Trifecta – Select the top three places in the right order.
  • Superfecta – Select the top four places in the right order.
  • Super Hi-Five – Select the top five places in the right order.

You can also “box” these wagers and buy combinations of multiple horses, or “key” one horse in a certain spot above or below several others.


If you want to have a full afternoon of fun-filled betting, you can bet across multiple consecutive races. These bets are often called “horizontal” exotic bets.

As an example, you can chose from:

  • Daily Double – Accurately choose a winner from two consecutive races.
  • (3) Pick 3 – Accurately choose a winner from three consecutive races.
  • (4) Pick 4 – Accurately choose a winner from four consecutive races.
  • (5) Pick 5 – Accurately choose a winner from five consecutive races.
  • (6) Pick 6 – Accurately choose a winner from six consecutive races.

How to place your bet with the teller

If you’re betting in-person at the track, make sure you’re placing your bet early and you’re stating your bet with specific information, in a specific order. Be sure you have your money ready in order to avoid irritating other customers.

State the below information to the teller, in this order:

  1. Track name
  2. Race number
  3. The dollar amount being bet
  4. Type of bet
  5. Horse’s number in the program

An example of placing a winning bet at the Kentucky Derby is: “Churchill Downs, Race 2, $2 to win on #3.”

The Derby is a national sporting event that attracts sports bettors of all experience levels. It’s a fun and thrilling experience that’s both entertaining and possibly profitable.

Make the most out of your gambling experience at the Kentucky Derby this year with our handy guide.

Photo by Darron Cummings / Associated Press
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