2021 Kentucky Derby Betting Odds

Virginians have a wealth of options for betting on the Kentucky Derby this year and there’s no reason to miss out. Pageantry is terrific, but watching your chosen horse come down the stretch in the lead is one of the best feelings in the world.

In preparation for this year’s edition and subsequent Derbies, this page will lay out exactly how to bet on the Kentucky Derby. We’ve also got all the top bonuses for Kentucky Derby betting apps in Virginia.

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How to bet on the Kentucky Derby

The first option that you have to bet on horse racing is through one of the four betting apps that are available to Virginians. These apps make it quite simple to bet on the Kentucky Derby online from anywhere in the state.

Of the four, we can recommend TVG as your first option. No other site has a more comprehensive and helpful approach to facilitating your online horse racing bets than this site.

TVG has a long history of experience in hosting online horse betting. The company recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary and has come to be one of the very top names in the market.

Furthermore, TVG is not just a horse betting site. It is one of the only 24-hour full-service television networks dedicated solely to horse racing. You can find hard-hitting expert commentary at all hours of the day, and every bit is designed to make you a savvier handicapper at the track.

Betting at Colonial Downs

Another option that Virginians have to place Derby bets is to visit the Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent. This track is the only location in the state to offer live racing on a regular basis, but like many other horse tracks, the facility also offers a bigger range of simulcast racing options.

If you don’t feel terribly comfortable placing a wager online, the helpful tellers at Colonial Downs will be more than happy to process your transaction.

Colonial Downs is also home to a large number of historical horse racing machines. These machines, which are a sort of hybrid between horse racing and slot machines, allow you to place wagers on races far into the past. It’s not exactly betting the ponies, but it can be a fun way to get into the action.

Off-track betting

If you don’t want to visit the track itself or simply don’t want to drive to New Kent, there are four off-track betting options (OTB) in Virginia. Each of these locations offers simulcast racing and the opportunity to wager on the Derby in an identical fashion to Colonial Downs. You just won’t smell the paddock and hear the occasional thunder of hoofbeats go by.

However, much like folks who are visiting Colonial Downs, an OTB site can be a terrific alternative if you need a bit more space and a more relaxed pace than you find online. You’ll probably have an easier time finding a variety of adult beverages at an OTB than you will at home, so that might be worth your consideration.

At any rate, here are the off-track betting locations that you can visit to bet on the Kentucky Derby in Virginia:

  • Breakers Sports Grille, Henrico
  • Buckets Bar and Grill, Chesapeake
  • Ponies and Pints, Richmond
  • The Windmill OTB Sports Grill, Collinsville

2020 Kentucky Derby Results & Final Odds

The Kentucky Derby ran the first weekend in September in 2020 rather than its usual slot in May. After originally intending to allow fans to enter the grounds to watch, the race was ultimately run with no fans in attendance.

2020 Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law was the heavy favorite coming in but Authentic, winner of the Haskell Invitational, edged him down the stretch. Morning line odds on Authentic were 8/1 while Tiz the Law began the day at 3/5. Authentic’s prize purse for winning the 2020 Kentucky Derby was $1.8m.

Check the Kentucky Derby 2020 results and starting odds below:

PositionHorseJockeyMorning Line OddsFinal Odds
1AuthenticJohn Velazquez8/18.40
2Tiz the LawManuel Franco3/50.70
3Mr. Big NewsGabriel Saez50/146.50
4Honor A.P.Mike. E. Smith5/17.60
5Max PlayerRicardo Santana Jr.30/119.60
6Storm the CourtJulien Leparoux50/127.50
7EnforceableAdam Beschizza30/122.90
8Ny TrafficPaco Lopez20/112.70
9Necker IslandMiguel Mena50/149.30
10Major FedJames Graham50/143.30
11Sole VolanteLuca Panici30/132.10
12Winning ImpressionJoe Rocco Jr.50/150.00
13Money MovesJavier Castellano50/113.10
14Attachment RateJoe Talamo30/147.50
15South BendTyler Gaffalione50/136.60

Kentucky Derby 2021 odds

Like any horse race, officials for the Kentucky Derby set odds for each horse to win the event. Early odds are available for betting on the Kentucky Derby ahead of the date, but the picture usually shifts quite a bit in the days and hours leading up to post time.

Many use the odds as they appear the morning of the race to fashion their baseline for comparison. However, as is often the case, things can change quickly in horse racing. By the time the gates fly open to begin the race, the favorite could be scratched and a longshot underdog could go off at less than half the original Kentucky Derby betting odds.

We’ll post starting odds for the 2021 Kentucky Derby here as soon as they’re available.

Types of bets for the Kentucky Derby

Few gambling activities have a more diverse range of bets than horse racing. If you can imagine the bet you want to make, the horse betting site or the track or the OTB will be able to take it.

In most cases, the only places that matter for horse bettors are the first three. There are a few bets that involve the horse that places fourth, but as a general rule, the top three finishers are the ones that determine the outcome of a bet.

With that in mind, there are two main categories of bets that exist around betting the ponies. Straight bets deal with the performance of a single horse, while exotic bets involve multiple horses.

Straight bets

Straight bets are bets on the performance of a single horse. Only the first three places in a horse race are worth any kind of money in a straight bet.

  • A win bet is exactly what you might think. You are betting that the horse will finish in first place.
  • A place bet is a wager that the horse will finish second or higher. So, a place bet on a horse that ends up winning the race is still a winning bet.
  • A show bet revolves around finishing third or higher. A horse that finishes in the top three constitutes a success for the show bettor.

These three terms are also used as verbs to describe a horse’s performance. So, if someone says that the horse “showed,” that person means that the horse finished in third place.

If you’re feeling quite confident about a horse in a particular race, you can bet that it will achieve more than one of the categories above. For instance, if you think that the horse will get at least second place, then a place/show bet would pay on both the place and show aspects of the wager. A win/place bet would do the same, only it would require the horse to win in order to maximize the payoff.

Finally, the granddaddy of the straight bets is the win/place/show bet. With one of these wagers, you are hoping for your selected horse to win. If it does, you win the value for all three bets.

Exotic bets

Just betting on a single horse is usually not sufficient for the experience of most horse bettors. Since there are so many horses running in a race, it seems obvious that there will be more than one of them to pay off.

Exotic bets are combination bets that help you to capture more of the field in your wager. There are several versions of exotic bets that allow you to bet on multiple different combinations of placing in a race. If you like, it is even possible to wager on every horse in the race.

The most common group of exotic bets requires you to pick the order of the race’s finish correctly. In other words, you must identify which horses will win, place, and show, and you must have them in the correct order.

So an exacta bet means that you are choosing the win and place horses. A trifecta means that you are ordering the win, place, and show. A superfecta is a selection of the top four horses to finish, including the fourth-place horse that does not receive any other payout on bets.

Modifiers

Along with these wagers, there are modifications that you can place onto the bets in order to change their complexions. Although you have to pay a premium to add these options to your wagers, they can give some valuable margin for error in your exotic bets.

Box

A box bet means that you choose the horses to finish as an exacta, trifecta, or superfecta, but the order in which they finish does not matter. Be aware, however, that the price for making a box bet is a multiple of the different combinations in which you can place the horses, so they can get quite expensive.

For instance, let’s say that you felt that the following horses would finish in the following order:

  • Horse No. 2 — Win
  • Horse No. 3 — Place
  • Horse No. 8 — Show

So you place a $2 trifecta bet. The horses must finish in the order of 2, 3, 8 for you to win.

However, if you wanted to use the same horses in a trifecta box, then there are six ways to order the numbers. Since there are six combinations, you have to pay for all six approaches. You’d have to pay $12, since $2 x 6 equals $12.

In a box bet, you can also add more horses to the mix than can finish. You could have a trifecta filled with four or five horses, and all you’d need to do is make sure that three of the five would finish in the top spots.

However, the more horses you add, the more combinations of orders there are, so adding horses to the mix can get quite expensive quickly.

Incidentally, an exacta box is also called a quinella. You can use either term, but it’s good to know if you ever hear mention of this other type of wager.

Wheel

A wheel bet is a horse betting wager that allows you to bet on a whole host of horses to place in a single slot. The bet allows players who are struggling to narrow down their picks as far as they’d like.

For instance, let’s say that you feel confident that horse No. 3 is going to win the next race, and horse No. 5 will place. However, you don’t want to settle for a simple win/place or exacta bet. You’d like to realize the extra profit potential on a trifecta.

So, what you can do is a full wheel bet. You set up the trifecta with No. 3 and No. 5, but bet “all” for the show portion of the trifecta. As long as your predictions come true for No. 3 and No. 5, you will win the full value of the trifecta.

You can also limit the field to a partial wheel bet. For instance, let’s say that you’re doing the same bet as above, but you are confident that horses Nos. 6-10 have no chance of showing. You can set a partial wheel trifecta where No. 3 must win, No. 5 must place, and the bet wins as long as the show horse is No. 1, No. 2, or No. 4.

It is also possible to do a wheel bet where the only certain horse that you pick is the winner. Those types of wheels are also known as key bets since the horse you picked to win is the key to the bet.

The nice thing about wheel bets is that they can give you a chance to spice up your expected winnings quite a bit. Consider the following scenario:

The next race will feature the following horses (and concurrent odds):

  • Horse 1 5:1
  • Horse 2 3:2
  • Horse 3 20:1
  • Horse 4 17:1
  • Horse 5 1:2
  • Horse 6 8:1
  • Horse 7 55:1
  • Horse 8 35:1

Now, you’ve done your research, and you know that the odds on horse No. 5 are accurate, and he’s almost certainly going to win. Furthermore, you are confident that horse No. 1 is surging, has a previous win over horse No. 2, and is going to place.

It’s reasonable to expect that horse No. 3 would be the show horse. However, if you happen to bet the field on a trifecta, it opens the possibility of scoring on a trifecta that involves some of those longshots. A trifecta that finishes 5-1-7 will pay significantly more than one that finishes 5-1-2.

Of course, like all things in horse betting, you have to pay more to have more options. The more horses you add to your wheel, the higher the cost of the ticket. Bear in mind that you can’t just bet the field every time.

Most notable wins in Kentucky Derby history

The Kentucky Derby has a long history of welcoming the greatest horses to have ever raced. Some performances at Churchill Downs have been legendary and have worked to cement a legacy of mystique and reverence about the horses themselves.

The Kentucky Derby is commonly known as the “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” in the American sports lexicon due to its approximate length. As it turns out, the two-minute barrier for the mile-and-a-quarter race is a hard cap for separating the greatest performances at Churchill Downs from the rest.

In fact, it is suspected that only three horses have managed to run for the roses in under two minutes. Only two are confirmed to have done so since Churchill Downs does not record the times of non-winners.

The first of these lightning-fast animals is Secretariat, the 1973 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winner. The legendary horse ran the Derby in a blistering 1:59.4, a record that stands to this day.

The only other winner to challenge Secretariat’s performance was Monarchos in 2001. The somewhat unheralded stallion slipped under the fabled time mark with a performance of 1:59.97.

Finally, the last horse suspected to have raced at a sub-two-minute pace was the place horse at the 1973 Derby. Sham lost to Secretariat by a mere 2.5 lengths, and some mathematical guesswork means that he likely would’ve been under the mark, too. It’s something of a shame that Secretariat’s brilliance overshadowed one of the great runs of the Derby.

Track conditions and the training methods of the time also play roles in the performances of the horses at the Derby. The Kentucky Derby has always attracted the top horses in the world, so major pull-away victories are rare. At present, the record for margin of victory, eight lengths, is shared by the following four horses:

  • Old Rosebud (1914)
  • Johnstown (1939)
  • Whirlaway (1941)
  • Assault (1946)

To date, the biggest upset (in terms of odds) was Donerail’s win in 1913. In that year, the bay colt managed to achieve first place as a 91/1 underdog. However, the most recent winner, Country House, holds the silver medal for the biggest upset with his 65/1 victory in the 2019 Derby.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is supposed to be a gathering of the world’s best racehorses in a given year. Race officials ensure that the field is of the highest caliber through a rather simple process. Every horse that runs in the Kentucky Derby has had to prove itself in races leading up to the Derby.

Horses must accrue enough points to be placed in the top 20 (or so) of the Kentucky Derby point standings. These points are available to horses who place high in a series of designated races throughout the US, Europe, and Japan.

Obviously, race officials weigh the number of points available in each race according to the prestige and caliber of the race itself. The top four finishers of each designated race receive points, which are tallied by officials at Churchill Downs.

History of the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby began as the 1872 brainchild of Meriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of famed explorer William Clark, after a trip to England. Clark was fascinated after watching the Epsom Derby and decided to bring prestigious horse racing back across the Atlantic Ocean.

With a land gift from two uncles, Clark founded the track facility that would become Churchill Downs and worked with the Louisville Jockey Club to host the first Kentucky Derby in 1875. The mile-and-a-half race had 15 entrants and crowned Aristides as its first champion.

Twenty-one years later, in 1896, the Derby implemented two changes that remain in place today. The first, and more substantive, was the shift to a race of one-and-a-quarter miles in length. The change came amid concerns that the mile-and-a-half length was asking too much of 3-year-olds at that point in the year.

1896 was also the first year that the winner, Ben Brush, was draped with a blanket of roses. This tradition is not only the reason why the Derby has become known as the “Run for the Roses,” but has helped to inspire other tracks to offer similar awards, albeit with their own twists.

The Derby has continuously run a race every year since its inception. It is one of the only races to do so and the only one of the Triple Crown races to have such a claim.

The Kentucky Derby was also one of the first races both to host pari-mutuel machines and carve out a place for them against the wishes and influence of local bookmakers. Many elements that have formed the modern horse track can trace their roots to the early activities at the Derby.

Needless to say, all 13 Triple Crown winners have begun their run for immortality at the Derby. The last horse to achieve the highest honor in horse racing was Justify in 2018.

Controversy at the 2019 Kentucky Derby

The 2019 Kentucky Derby marked the second time that the first horse to cross the finish line was not declared the winner.

The clear first-place finisher of the 2019 event was Maximum Security. However, during the race, Maximum Security was found to have swerved into and impeded several other horses en route to the victory.

Course stewards disqualified Maximum Security and his jockey, Luis Saez, as the rightful victors of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. The title then fell to the second-place finisher, Country House. As it happened, Country House became the second longest-shot to take home the blanket of roses in race history.

Saez received a 15-day suspension from the stewards for his actions. The disqualification marred a tremendous run by Maximum Security, who was unquestionably the best-running horse that day.

Still, a horse and/or jockey that behaves inappropriately is not acceptable for the winner of the grandest horse race. So, Country House, at 65/1, became the official winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby FAQ

When is the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby traditionally occurs on the first Saturday in May. In 2020 it was postponed due to fears about the COVID-19 pandemic but it is expected to be held in May for the foreseeable future. The 2021 Run for the Roses is scheduled for May 1.

How much does the winner of the Kentucky Derby get?

The winner of the Kentucky Derby is due to win $1,860,000 for his or her efforts. The prize money is the largest chunk of a $3 million purse for the event.

When is post time?

The race has run at different post times over the years but in 2020, for example, post time was 7:01 pm ET.

What does it cost to watch the event live?

General admission tickets for the Kentucky Derby range from $65 to $85, depending on how soon you purchase them. However, the interest that the event generates means that tickets are likely to be resold for many thousands of dollars more than the official price by post time.

How long does the Derby last?

As a general rule, the Kentucky Derby lasts roughly two minutes from start to finish. In fact, the two-minute mark has proven to be a nearly impossible measurement for racing horses to defeat at the Kentucky Derby. Only two horses have conclusively done so, and only one other horse is thought to have ever raced around the track in under 120 seconds.

Who was the fastest horse to win the Kentucky Derby?

The fastest time ever recorded for a Kentucky Derby was Secretariat’s 1973 win. The celebrated Triple Crown winner notched a blistering 1:59.4 for his run, a record still standing strong today. Four other Kentucky Derby winners share the record for biggest wins, each horse defeated its nearest opponent by eight lengths.