There are few sporting events as iconic as the Kentucky Derby. Heralded as the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” the Run for the Roses has been held annually at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky every year since 1875. There are plenty of available Kentucky Derby odds at sportsbooks that cover the Kentucky Derby betting action.
The 2021 Kentucky Derby will be run on its traditional date, the First Saturday in May: Saturday, May 1.
The race is the centerpiece of a two-week-long festival that takes over the city of Louisville. Most years, the Kentucky Derby fills Churchill Downs to capacity each year at around 160,000 fans and attracts the largest crowd of all of the major North American horse races. Though, in 2021, it will allow 20,000-30,000 fans due to COVID-19 regulations.
The race itself is contested at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter and holds Grade 1 status and a purse of $3 million. Since the inaugural running in 1875, the Kentucky Derby has been held every year. It is restricted to three-year-old Thoroughbreds but both colts and fillies are eligible to compete, though a filly has only won the race three times throughout history.
Kentucky Derby 2020 Winner
Congratulations to Authentic, who won the 2020 Kentucky Derby ahead of the favourite Tiz the Law and Mr. Big News who grabbed the third spot. An excellent race by Authentic and jockey John Velazquez.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) September 5, 2020
Kentucky Derby Live Odds
The Kentucky Derby prep season is well underway, and sportsbooks are beginning to offer odds for the 2021 Kentucky Derby. These odds, for the most favoured contenders, were last updated on April 4, 2020:
|2021 Kentucky Derby Winners Odds|
|Rock Your World||+650||+2500||TBA|
|Hot Rod Charlie||+1100||+800||TBA|
Kentucky Derby Traditions
The Kentucky Derby is rich with tradition and pageantry. From the mint juleps to the stirring rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home” as the horses make their way on to the track, the Kentucky Derby is one of the oldest and most prestigious events in all of the sports.
Kentucky Derby Betting Sites
If you can't make it to Churchill Downs to watch the Kentucky Derby, heading to an online racebook is the next best way of boosting the excitement of one of the most prestigious races in the world. Always take the time to compare the different types of promotions that racebooks offer before signing up. Wagering services provide different types of betting boons, such as deposit bonuses and wagering rebates that help raise the odds of winning. Some sites offer cashback options, and others will refund a win wager that finishes second.
Kentucky Derby Final Odds
Nearly $150 million is wagered on the Derby itself. It often has a full field of 20 horses in the gate, meaning there are plenty of wagering opportunities and chances for big payouts. The average Kentucky Derby superfecta since 2009 has been nearly $40,000, ranging from $542 in 2016 to over $550,000 in 2009.
Longshots regularly win the Derby, with Country House scoring at 65-1 in 2019, Animal Kingdom at 20 – 1 in 2011, and both Mine That Bird and Giacomo at 50 – 1 in 2009 and 2005. Before the current Road to the Kentucky Derby points system was installed by Churchill Downs in 2012, longshots won more regularly, but after the change, there have only been two winners who were not the wagering favorite.
52 of 146 Kentucky Derbies have been won by the favorite. Not a single favorite won the race from 1979 until 2000, then 10 favorites scored from 2001 until 2019.
Kentucky Oaks Odds
There is also a special wager, the Oaks/Derby Double, which offers betting on the Kentucky Derby’s sister race, the Kentucky Oaks, the day before in conjunction with the Derby itself. Bettors are asked to pick the winner of each race over the two days, before seeing how the track is playing on race day. It can be a lucrative bet if one or both winners are price plays.
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you:
Kentucky Derby Winners
In 2015, American Pharoah ended the Triple Crown drought and became the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. American's Pharoah's final Kentucky Derby odds were 5-2. His Triple Crown win followed a series of heartbreaking near misses, with California Chrome in 2014 winning the Derby and Preakness but fell short in the Belmont Stakes.
Nyquist, the champion two-year-old in 2015, kept his undefeated streak intact and won the Kentucky Derby in 2016 only to falter in the Preakness. I’ll Have Another won the Derby and Preakness before being scratched out of the Belmont Stakes one day before his Triple Crown bid. Popular runners such as Silver Charm and Real Quiet won the first two legs then missed by inches in the final race.
Three years after American Pharoah, Justify won the Triple Crown in 2018. Both horses were trained by Bob Baffert. While American Pharoah went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Justify was retired as the only Triple Crown winner to have a completely unbeaten career. Justify's Kentucky Derby odds were 3-1.
Another Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew, won the series in 1977 but then was defeated afterward. American Pharoah is the only horse to win both the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Only two winning horses have ever broken the two-minute mark at the Kentucky Derby. The legendary Secretariat still holds the record, completing 1 1/4 mile in 1:59:40 during the 1973 edition. In 2001, Monarchos came close to besting the record, becoming the second-fastest horse at the Derby with a time of 1:59:97.
Only three fillies have ever won the Derby, with the most recent being Winning Colors in 1988. Genuine Risk preceded her in 1980, while Regret won in 1915. The most recent filly to try the Run for the Roses was Eight Belles in 2008; she finished second.
Kentucky Derby Final Odds
Donerail in 1913 is the highest-priced winner in Derby history at 91-1. It wasn’t until Country House was put up at 65-1 in the 2019 Derby after the disqualification of Maximum Security that anyone else got close.
In 2005, Giacomo won the race at 50 – 1. Mine That Bird followed four years later with another 50 – 1 upset. These races were attributed to there being too much precocious speed in the race, they faded and paved the way for deep closers to upset. Since the Kentucky Derby points rules were put into place in 2012, there has not been a big upset like this save for Maximum Security’s disqualification and Country House’s promotion.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won six times, tying Ben Jones's all-time record. The most a jockey has won is five, accomplished by both Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack. In 2010, Calvin Borel won three out of four Kentucky Derbies, following victories on Street Sense in 2007, Mine That Bird in 2009, and Super Saver in 2010.
Some of the game’s biggest trainers have only won the race once, such as Shug McGaughey in 2013 with Orb, and Bill Mott with Country House in 2019. Todd Pletcher, who trains Kentucky Derby prospects Known Agenda and Bourbonic, has won it twice.
The most expensive Kentucky Derby winner was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. The son of Mr. Prospector commanded a price of $4 million as a yearling in 1998 and won six races before being syndicated for over $60 million. In comparison, California Chrome came from a dam that cost $8,000 and a stallion that cost $2,000 and went on to earn back $14.7 million on the track.
Final entries and the post position draw for the 2020 Kentucky Derby will take place on Wednesday, April 28. The 2021 Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 1 at Churchill Downs. Post time is approximately 6:30 Eastern time.
Qualifying for the Kentucky Derby
To compete in the Kentucky Derby, a horse must qualify for the race through a series of prep races called the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The series features races that begin for two-year-olds and extend through the sophomore season. The points are scaled depending on when the race is run and only the twenty horses with the most points earn a spot in the starting gate for the Run for the Roses.
Major prep races include the Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita, the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park, the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, and the Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds. The winners of these races are always able to get a spot in the Derby, while others who finish second or third rely on points earned from other races, or horses who defect.
Only the top 20 American points holders get in, fewer if a horse makes the trip from overseas. There is a Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby and a European Road to the Kentucky Derby; one slot is reserved for each. Japan’s Road to the Derby includes the Unicorn Stakes, Fukuryu, and Hyacinth Stakes. The European Road to the Derby includes the Patton Stakes and the Vertem Futurity Trophy in the United Kingdom.
One spot in the Kentucky Derby is reserved for each of those series. However, horses from those European and Japanese races do not always choose to come to Louisville, so often 20 American-based horses do get into the race.
The points emphasis is on three-year-old racing, with even the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), the premier race for two-year-olds, getting only 20 points for the win.
Aside from the Blue Grass at Keeneland, which is a short three-week meet, the other races all have preps with lower points, such as the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream preceding the Florida Derby, and the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita coming before the Santa Anita Derby. For Oaklawn it is the Rebel Stakes (G2), and for the Fair Grounds, it is the Risen Star (G2).
Some smaller tracks also offer a lot of Derby points. The Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs offers 50 points to the winner; the Sam F. Davis (G3) is its local 10-point prep. Turfway Park also offers a pair of points races; the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) offers its winner 100 points, and the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes is its 10-point local prep.