It wasn’t all that long ago that you actually had to be at Churchill Downs or your local racetrack to get a bet down on America’s most famous race, the Kentucky Derby. Of course that started to change as the horse betting options expanded to include off-track and online wagering, but even then there really was no advance betting on the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.”
That changed about 20 years ago with the introduction of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager that allowed handicappers to put down their money months in advance of the first Saturday in May. The first Kentucky Derby Future Wager was pretty basic – just a win bet on which horse was going to get the 1 ¼-mile finish line first. But over the years the possibilities have expanded greatly and now there is exacta wagering, future betting on the Kentucky Oaks, and the relatively new Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager. There are plenty of different ways for Kentucky Derby wagering.
The first round of betting recently concluded, so let’s take a look at the results and odds for Poll 1. For the standard future wager, the option for “all other 3-year-old colts and geldings” ended as the 6-5 favorite, as tends to happen in the early pools when it seems likely that many of the leading horses have not yet established themselves (and indeed Triple Crown winner Justify had not even started a race at this time last year). Among the 23 other choices in the field, Game Winner, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, ended up as the second betting choice at 5-1.
In the sires wager, “all other sires” was a slight favorite at odds of 9-2 and was followed by popular stallions Tapit at 6-1 and Candy Ride and Into Mischief at 7-1. There are still three more pools for these future wagers coming up in February, March and April before the big race in May.
While these future wagers are risky, especially as Thoroughbreds are prone to get injured before the Derby, the payoffs can be big if you hit the right horse. So it’s probably not a great idea to lay down big money at this point, but there’s no harm in picking out a few of your favorites and take a chance at getting much better odds now. Just don’t forget where you stashed your tickets so that yon can cash in when May rolls around!