Wagering at the Kentucky Derby® 101

Posted by Kristen Doolan on Tue, Apr 4, 2017 @ 11:51 AM

Just like extravagant hats, bright colors and Mint Juleps, wagering is a staple you will find within the gates at the Kentucky Derby®. As you prepare for your trip to Churchill Downs® let us help you in one area many are confused by, wagering.

Wagering 101 - How to Bet

Placing a bet is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Over the course of the two days racing, a few Benjamin’s will exchange hands, make no mistake about that. Nowadays, venues such as the Turf Club at Churchill Downs® have their own private wagering stations, so the experience of dealing with a teller is foregone. For those of us not fortunate enough to have such luxury, we have listed some steps to make your wagering experience as painless as possible.

  1. The race’s number (i.e., the first race of the day would be “race number one”).
  2. The type of bet you would like to make. Here you’ll use betting terminology like Win, Place, (as listed below), etc.
  3. The dollar amount of your wager.
  4. The number of the horse as it is referred to in your racing program. While it’s tempting to use a horse’s name, simply refer to it by its number.

For Example: “Race 3, $2 to win on #4”

If you’re looking for inspiration on picking a winning horse, that, fortunately, is to your own discretion. Whether it’s a lucky number, you like the look of a horse or its name, make sure you do it while having fun!

Types of Bets

Whether this is your first or tenth time to the Kentucky Derby®, the heart of the action will be based around the placing of bets for the forthcoming race.

“Will he like the ground? Is the horse too far off the pace coming into the home straight? I don’t know how to place a bet!”

These are just some of the questions that will be raised from every type of race-goer on May 3rd and 4th at Churchill Downs®. If you’re one of the latter ones who’s going in blindly, fear not; we have you covered!

The most common bet placed is a Win. It’s quite simple; you collect if your horse wins the race. A Place is a punter hedging their bets: the horse they’ve selected must finish in 1st or 2nd place in order for them to collect. Similarly with a Show bet, though this bet covers 1st, 2nd and 3rd places respectively. Thereafter, the type of bet you can place can become more intricate, as listed below.

WIN – You collect if your horse wins.

PLACE – You collect if your horse wins or is 2nd.

SHOW – You collect if your horse wins or is 2nd or 3rd.

EXACTA – You collect if you select two horses in one race to finish 1st and 2nd in the exact order.

DAILY DOUBLE – You collect if you pick the horses to win each of two designated races.

TRIFECTA – You collect if you select three horses in one race to finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in exact order.

SUPERFECTA – You collect if you select four horses in one race to finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in exact order.

PICK 3 – You collect if you pick the horses to win each of three designated races.

PICK 6 – You collect if you pick the horses to finish 1st in each of six designated races.

BOX – Term to indicate covering your selections in all possible finish orders. Example: $2 Exacta Box numbers 3 & 8 horses.

Kentucky Derby Wager

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About the Bloggers

Kristen Doolan

Kristen Doolan was born and raised a Florida State Seminole. Making her way from Florida to North Carolina, Kristen achieved her B.S. in Business Adminstration, Marketing at The University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is an avid traveler, college football addict, beach bum and loves spending time with her family and friends. 

Jazzy Morgan

Jazzy Morgan is originally from London, England and a die-hard Manchester United Fan. She grew up in Connecticut and made the move down south in 2011 where she attended Winthrop University and received her B.S. in Family & Consumer Sciences and a minor in Marketing. Jazzy enjoys traveling, working out, reading her monthly Vogue & Cosmo and keeping up with fashion trends.