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How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby

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So you want to bet on the Kentucky Derby? You’re in good company. The most important horse race of the Triple Crown regularly pulls in over $100 million in wagers. Some of that money could be in your own pocket if you make smart betting decisions – or if you just get lucky.


Many of the people who will be betting on the Kentucky Derby will pick their horses the old-fashioned way: by how catchy the name is. Of course, a good name will do nothing to make a horse run faster, even if his name is Ludicrous Speed or Usain Bolt. However, a good name will grab people’s attention enough to get some of them to bet a couple of dollars, hoping the horse with a great name will carry the day.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Betting in the US
3. Deposit Options
4. Mobile Betting

1. Introduction to Betting

The casual bettors will also base their betting decisions on unrelated aesthetics like the color of the jockey’s silks, the number of the horse’s post position (as opposed to the position itself, which does matter) or what state/country the owner is from. All of these Kentucky Derby bets are just fine – for entertainment purposes. If you want to make money betting on horses, you’ll need a better decision-making process.

Manage Your Expectations

First, be aware that your horse probably isn’t going to win. There are going to be 20 of them (probably) on the track at the Kentucky Derby, and these are presumably the 20 best 3-year-old thoroughbreds in North America. Back in 2012 the pre-race favorite, Bodemeister, was 4-1 on the Morning Line. That means you’d expect him to win once in every five attempts in this situation. That horse was the favorite (he finished second, by the way).

That doesn’t mean you can’t place an educated bet, but from a money management perspective, it does mean that you should avoid putting all your proverbial eggs in one basket. Instead of betting all your money on one horse to win, diversify your portfolio. Make a series of small, speculative bets in situations where you feel you have an information advantage over the rest of the betting public. In the long run, if you do well enough, your winning bets will earn more than your losing bets cost.

Get Your Information

A horse player is only as good as the information at their disposal. There was a time when that meant hanging around at the track, maybe getting to know some people, hoping to glean some inside information. Some people still do that. With that being said, how reliable is that information?

Thanks to the Internet, anyone with access can gather an incredible amount of solid data about horses, races, jockeys, trainers, owners, tracks – and all for free, just like you’re doing right now by reading this. A quality racebook (we recommend Bovada for eligible customers in the United States and Bodog for the rest of the world) will have tons of useful race information at your fingertips. There is no shortage of dedicated horseracing websites at your disposal.

Understand the Situation

Any time you bet on a sporting event, the best predictor you can have is what happened previously at similar events. There are things you can learn in general about what tends to happen at the Kentucky Derby, but since the horses in the field are all 3-year-olds and only get one shot at the Run for the Roses, the most valuable information you can collect is how well each horse has performed in the same situation – same length (1 1/4 miles, or 10 furlongs), same surface (dirt), ideally the same track (Churchill Downs) and the same conditions (fast, sloppy, frozen, et al).

Show Some Dedication

The more you know, the more profitable you can make your Kentucky Derby betting experience. Did you know that different horses have different styles of running? Some are frontrunners like Bodemeister was, preferring to set a fast pace early and run everyone else ragged. That style works better in sprint races of a mile or less. Other horses stalk, which means they run just behind the leaders before trying to overtake them late (as I’ll Have Another did to Bodemeister in 2012), and other horses rally from farther back, which is considered the best strategy for winning the Kentucky Derby.

You can arm yourself with even more data about things like the horse’s top Beyer Speed Figure and his Dosage Index – neither of which is about drugs, by the way. Since this is the Kentucky Derby we’re talking about, there’s more information available for this race than any other. Make good use of it.

2. Betting on the Kentucky Derby in the US

11513335As long as there has been horse racing, there has been horse betting. They don’t call it the “Sport of Kings” for no reason: horse racing has been around for as long as we can remember and you know those kings would throw down a little (or not so little) wager on which horse was faster than the next.

It should come as no surprise then that the Kentucky Derby is one of the most highly bet events in the world of sports betting besides the Super Bowl. Back in 2013 there was a total of $130,500,000 bet on the Kentucky Derby and that was actually down from 2012 when $133,500,000 came in on the race.

There were many people that were disappointed by the 2013 numbers but you have to take into account that there were only 19 Kentucky Derby contenders in the field that year instead of 20 due to Black Onyx pulling out just before the early betting took place, leaving Fear the Kitten without a spot. The size of the field definitely matters –, especially to smart, educated bettors. It was also a cold and damp day, meaning track conditions were less than ideal and that probably scared more than a few casual players off. That being said, those were still good numbers for a one-day sporting event.

Remember that those numbers were only for the action that took place at Churchill Downs; imagine what the online betting numbers were! More and more players are moving their bets online because, quite frankly, it is more convenient and easier to do. You can also bet on more races; you don’t have to actually be physically at that particular track to make a bet.

The status of online betting tends to depend on where you are located. Some places are more flexible while some countries, like the United States, tend to be a bit more restrictive. However, more and more individual states in the USA are starting to relax their laws as they need new streams of tax revenue and let’s face it: people like to bet. There are a few states like Nevada and New Jersey leading the way with domestic online betting and you get the feeling that more states are watching and waiting for the results so they can decide if it is worth the risk for their citizens.

With the Triple Crown season coming up, you should start doing your research now; figure out what to be betting on the Kentucky Derby and where you should be taking your business.

Best Spots to Bet Horses Online

It really depends on the individual companies as some have made the effort to understand the American regulations and can operate just fine while others don’t go that extra mile. That already is a telling sign as to where you might want to play. These handfuls of shops still provide for American players and offer a safe and reliable service. These offshore sites are an extremely popular way to bet the Kentucky Derby odds if you are from the United States.

So, what are you looking for in regards to picking a good racebook or sportsbook for betting on Kentucky Derby? As was mentioned before, finding out about their reliability and security should be the first thing you do. A book can have all the betting options in the world and the site can be full of flashy bells and whistles, but what is the point if you have troubles with the banking? What if it takes weeks to make a withdrawal? Do they use credit cards only or have a diverse array of deposit and payout options? Look for sportsbooks with solid reputations that have a long history of success. A quality sportsbook will have numerous methods of contact (phone, e-mail, etc.) and just by chatting with them, you’ll be able to get a pretty good feel for what they’re all about.

You should also check out how a site looks on your smartphone, as most people like to bet on the go. If that’s important to you, you’ll want to make sure that the book you sign up with is up-to-date with the latest technology. Lastly, make sure you check out what kind of deposit bonuses and Kentucky Derby promotions are offered. Usually, you can get a nice racebook bonus just for opening an account and funding it, which means you’ll have some free money to use for your horse racing bets. Take advantage of all the bonuses you can find as you prepare to bet on the Run for the Roses.

Some Quick Tips for Betting on Horses

Remember that when it comes to betting of any kind, you should always practice safe bankroll management. Sometimes bettors get a little too excited in the moment and bet beyond their means. Make sure you have a budget and stick within it. Treat it as a form of entertainment. Set a level that works for you and stick with that.

Lastly, make sure you do your research. Nowadays, there are so many outlets where you can find out about the horses, it really makes your life much easier to pick a winner. Twenty to thirty years ago, betting on the Kentucky Derby would be a big challenge as there would only be a few people in the know. Nowadays, there’s a million resources to you online from the horse trainers to jockeys, to handicapper blogs, to analysts, to other bettors making their evaluations just like you. Make sure you take in all of the information before you make your decisions. It will help you cash in more often.

3. Deposit Options

interac-email-transfer-logoMost horse betting players use credit cards to make their deposits online because almost everyone has a card, it’s easy and it’s secure. However, over the last decade or so, there have been a number of new online banking methods that allow players to move their money. They say variety is the spice of life. Well, bettors now have plenty of spices on the rack to choose from.

There’s been a couple of reasons for the change as some of it has been the advancement of technology while some has been the easing or changing of regulations. From the technology standpoint, we’ve seen mainstream methods like Paypal, Skrill and other online banking options come to light and help those who bet on Kentucky Derby online. Also, there’s been the easing of government regulations as some countries have become far more flexible on the matter.

If you’re betting on Kentucky Derby online, you’ll have a very easy time depositing unless you’re from one of the few countries that’s made it a tougher process for you. For example, the United States has made it challenging for players to go the online route unless they play at a certain few sportsbooks. However there are some quality companies that have paid close attention to the issue and have worked to find ways that are clean and make it easy for you to transfer funds back and forth in the USA. In places like Canada and the United Kingdom, you’ll find far more flexibility to deposit and withdraw your money.

How to Deposit Online

If you want to use your credit card to get your funds in for Kentucky Derby betting, there are a number of sites that make it smooth sailing. Any card that has the Visa logo works great (even the debit cards or gift cards). Just make sure it can handle international purchases as domestic cards sometimes have issues.

There’s some other options that are available to you like Rapid Transfer or Money Transfer. Rapid Transfer is a pretty good method for banking as it usually just involves calling the sportsbook to get the details. Once they know that you’re planning to make the transfer to or from your account, they’ll give you the next steps with how to proceed. All you’ll have to do is go to the local Rapid Transfer outlet and get them to execute the transfer. They’ll give you a confirmation number as part of your receipt and then you’ll call back to the sportsbook with that number and you’re done. Money Transfers virtually follow the exact same steps.

Another popular method to use is Bank Transfer, which can be completed without fees and is also an instant transfer. You’ll just have to register your account details with the provider and then once they have the information, it moves very smoothly. The only key is to make sure you stick with a reputable provider because you want to deal with a company who protects your privacy.

Interac e-transfers have become very popular over the last few years and they are super easy to use. If you’re set up with online banking, you can deposit money right from your bank account, which takes only about an hour or two to process (requesting the funds takes only a minute or two but the banks take a bit longer to actually complete the transfer). Lastly, another quality options is Entropay, which is really just purchasing a Virtual Visa through your personal credit card.

How Safe Is It to Deposit Online?

When it comes to the actual transfer of money, all of these methods are very safe. Every single one of the processes mentioned above come with the utmost security, which should put your mind at ease. They all use high-level encryption and the most advanced security practices. However, the one thing you’ll want to prioritize is the choosing of an online sportsbook or racebook that is approved and safe. If you’ve got that down, then everything else is gravy. If you’re using trustworthy shops, then you can sleep easy. If you want to venture outside of that realm, then it’s buyer beware.

Make sure that your online banking password is sturdy. Always use a password that is at least eight characters long, has at least one capital letter and one number. You can also change it from time to time to ensure that you’re completely covered. The key is to make sure you’re taking as many precautions as you can on your end because you want your information to be safe.

The Best Deposit Method for Horse Racing Bettors

So we’ve come to conclusion but there’s no one, universal answer for all horse betting handicappers. Depositing online is very much a personal choice and will depend on your preference and your location. For example: in certain places where the banking regulations are tighter, you may only have a couple of options. That means the decision might be made for you. In other places, you may have a buffet to choose from, so you’ll have to narrow what works best for you.

Credit cards tend to be the most popular choice for horse racing enthusiasts as it’s simple and safe. It’s an instantaneous process that really doesn’t take much from your end. You can deposit over the phone or online, and be betting on the Kentucky Derby odds minutes later. Just make sure that you pay down your credit card balance every month as you don’t want to be accruing a ton of interest.

If you happen to find yourself in a country like the United States, you’ll want to examine your options. Online horse betting is legal but it’s sometimes it gets tricky with online banking. You’ll have to make the executive decision and choose which deposit option is best for you.

Keep in mind that the majority of deposit methods are free but some do have costs. Although security and ease of transfer tend to be the priorities, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not paying exorbitant fees as well. After all, the more you pay for fees, the less you’ll have to bet on the Kentucky Derby contenders. Usually, the better books will offer ways to make a free deposit. In some cases, they might even cover the fees if you deposit enough.

Aside from that, keep in contact with them to find out all of the details as they are experts on the matter regardless of where you’re located.

One last thing, don’t get too hung up on the fees as the better books offer deposit bonuses. You’ll get some of the house’s money just for depositing, so that will help cover some of the fees – if you have any – or give your horse betting bankroll a head start before you’ve even placed a bet.

4. Mobile Horse Betting

colors_pearl_black_k2_full_hd_smart_phone_front2Betting on horse racing has been around for a long time and with the advent – and advancement – of the internet, it’s grown by leaps and bounds. Nowadays, you can bet on the Kentucky Derby from virtually anywhere, including your desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet.

Even so, it’s still a growing business as some bettors still prefer the old school methods of going to the track. That’s expected to change as a generation of new bettors will grow up using the technology to get their bet made online instead of the old-fashioned way.

As per usual, there are some groups of people who are concerned about people having too much access to horse betting. They feel that too much access to gaming can cause problems but as the industry grows, this has not proven to be the case. Some people have wondered if those negative thoughts are fueled by land-based casinos who are concerned that online horse betting (such as Kentucky Derby betting) could take business away.

For customers, there’s no question that online betting and betting on the go is a huge win. Nowadays, those long subway rides don’t feel so protracted when you can go online and peruse the Kentucky Derby contenders. Or those waits in line aren’t so bad when you can glance at the early Kentucky derby odds.

The Growth of Mobile Horse Betting

The original seed was planted with online gaming. That was the first major transition from the old school to the new school as it created a way for bettors to wager on horses and not having to be at the track. Sure, certain land-based racebooks offered betting on all major tracks but that still forced the player to be at one of those casinos. While that was possible for some, it was an arduous task for others as most of us have to drive at least a couple of hours to get to a casino.

After the original transition to online betting was made, it was only a matter of time before bettors were introduced to betting on the go. As smartphone technology has advanced, along with the capabilities of mobile internet (such as 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi), so has the capabilities of online horse betting.

Nowadays, it’s blossomed to the point where bettors can walk around with an iPad or an Android smartphone and accomplish everything they need to at their racebook as if they were at a desktop. The sportsbooks and racebooks have optimized their sites to make the functionality smooth for bettors on the go. Most quality racebooks will even give you a bonus to try out their mobile product because they are confident that you’ll love it.

The technology isn’t perfect; it’s still being perfected. Remember, this is all still relatively new for bettors as well as the people who offer the service. Some people have criticized the withdrawal functionality with some racebook mobile clients as it seems to be pretty easy to deposit but withdrawing is still a work in progress. In due time, that’ll come. It’s also still pretty easy to just use your smartphone the old-fashioned way – to call – and just order your withdrawal. That still works just fine.

The best thing to do is to test out the product yourself. Just load up the website, see how optimized it is for your particular device, try it out on your tablet and see how speedy it is based on your cellular connection. Once you have an idea of what you’re working with, you’ll probably find it quite easy to bet on the go.

Which Online Racebooks Have the Best Mobile Options?

Pretty much every online racebook is rushing to the market offering their services in mobile form. Although the mobile feature is new to old school bettors, it’s a feature that new bettors expect to have wherever they sign up. Very soon, it will be a make-or-break deal for everyone. After all, you don’t want to be the guy at Churchill Downs just watching the race while the guy beside you is still analyzing, adjusting and betting on Kentucky Derby as everyone is settling into their post positions.

When you’re choosing an online racebook, you’ll want to double-check that they have a mobile version that’s friendly with whatever operating system you use on your device. Most mobile racebooks are iOS friendly (Apple devices) as well as Android friendly (Google’s operating system). However, those who use Blackberry and Microsoft phones will have to double-check to see which racebooks have gone the extra mile to be accommodating to everyone and which are still working on it.

Tips for Mobile Horse Racing Bettors

Just the thought of being able to bet on Kentucky Derby from anywhere – at a department store, at an airport, at the barber shop – is an amazing concept but there are a couple of caveats you’ll want to keep in mind. For starters, you’ll have to keep an eye on your data usage. Remember, mobile horse betting is also using mobile data, so just make sure you don’t go way over your smartphone plan when you’re betting. There’s Wi-Fi hotspots almost everywhere these days (coffee shops are great for that), so take advantage of it when you can to be able to keep your smartphone bill in check.

Beyond just the regular data charges, keep in mind that some people can take on roaming fees as well. If you’re traveling or simply outside of your specific zone, that might also incur a fee with your service provider.

Next up is to look for a good bonus from the racebook that you’re going to be depositing with. Many sportsbooks and racebooks offer a nice bonus that can give your account a boost before you even begin betting. That’s important to take advantage of as it’ll give you some of the house’s money to get started with. That’ll be handy to have in your pocket when you’re doing your Kentucky Derby betting.

Lastly, remember to choose your playing situations wisely. You wouldn’t text and drive, so don’t bet on horses and drive. It’s logical but just a friendly reminder to be aware of your surroundings because mobile horse betting can be pretty enthralling.