Betting the Kentucky Derby

Part of the fun and excitement at the Kentucky Derby is betting the races. The idea of picking a winner, watching your horse cross the finish line first, and collecting your winnings will give you an adrenalin rush that is second to none. To help you understand the variety of wagers available and how to place a bet is detailed below.

The most common bets, particularly for the beginner, are the win, place, and show wagers:


Betting on your horse to finish first.


Betting on your horse to finish first or second.


Betting on your horse to finish first, second, or third.

The win bet is harder to pick and therefore usually pays more. The place and show bets give you a little more edge and therefore normally pay less. You can also bet “Across The Board”, which means you are placing an equal bet on the win, place and show. If your horse finishes first, you collect on all three positions. If your horse finishes second you collect on place and show. And, if your horse finishes third, you are paid the show price only.

Other bets that are a little harder to pick, but can pay considerably more are:

There are some other wagering options that cost a little more, but increase your chance of winning:

When you box a bet, you collect if your selected horses finish in any order. For example, if you buy a $2.00 exacta box on three horses it will cost $12.00, but you win if any two of your horses finish first and second.

A wheel combines one horse with every other horse in a race that you select. For example, you can wheel a horse in the first race of a daily double with all the horses in the second race of the daily double. If the horse you wheeled in the first race wins, you win the double.

A partial wheel allows you to pick only some of the possible combinations. For example, an exacta partial wheel #3 with 5,6, and 8 wins if #3 wins and 5,6, or 8 place.

Understanding Odds

Odds on a horse are calculated based on the amount of money wagered on that horse and the others in the field. The horse with the most money bet on him (referred to as the favorite) and deemed most likely to win will have the lowest pay-off odds. On a $2.00 bet with 3 to 1 odds, if you win, you will be paid the $2.00 you bet plus $2.00 times the odds, thus you would receive $8.00 for that wager.

How to Place a Bet

You can place a bet electronically, or at the ticket windows. For clarity and to avoid confusion, ticket purchases should be spelled out in the following order:

  1. Race Number
  2. Amount
  3. Type of Bet
  4. Horse Number

For instance, if you wanted to bet $5.00 to win on the No. 6 horse in the second race, your order would be, “Race 2, $5.00 to win on No. 6.”

You will, of course, find more detail in the program and other material at the track to simplify the activity there and make your day more enjoyable. And we, at will be happy to answer any questions you may have in this regard, in addition to providing you with great Kentucky Derby Packages, or tickets.



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