Before Live Horse Racing Returns to Virginia, Get Some Kentucky Derby Action

Posted on April 29, 2021 - Last Updated on May 31, 2021

The “Sport of Kings” will soon return to Virginia, but eager horseplayers can get some early action with the 2021 Kentucky Derby this weekend.

However, you don’t need to venture to Louisville to enjoy the famed “Run for the Roses.” After all, NBC will air Saturday’s race live (6:30 p.m.).

And if you want to have a little skin in the game, horse racing bettors also have wagering options for the race. However, don’t expect to find those betting opportunities at the new Virginia sportsbooks that opened this year. If you’re betting on the ponies, you’ll have to go elsewhere.

One option involves the legal site TVG, where you can make bets from the comfort of your home. The other involves a trip to one of the many Rosie’s Gaming Emporium locations in Virginia, which have on-site racebooks.

2021 Kentucky Derby entrants and odds

Churchill Downs will again host this year’s race. The race is the finale of the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival, which is the largest annual event in Kentucky.

The marquee attraction of the festivities is the 1 1/4-mile (10-furlong) Grade I stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbreds. It’s the first leg of horse racing’s famed Triple Crown, along with the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

The 2020 version of the race was moved to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, though, the Kentucky Derby returns to its usual slot on the first Saturday in May.

This is the 147th running of the race, which has been held every year since 1875. And though Churchill Downs regularly draws 165,000 spectators for the race, this year’s Kentucky Derby will again have reduced attendance. Due to social-distancing measures, the throngs of fans will likely be capped at about 45,000. However, large crowds or not, “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” provides plenty of excitement and drama.

So which horses are best primed to snatch that $1.4 million first prize at the 147th Kentucky Derby? Who could join the likes of Secretariat, Smarty Jones, Seattle Slew and other famous Derby winners? Here’s this year’s field, with opening odds:

Post positionHorseOpening odds
1.Known Agenda6-1
2.Like the King50-1
3.Brooklyn Strong50-1
4.Keepmeinmind50-1
5.Sainthood50-1
6.O Besos20-1
7.Mandaloun15-1
8.Medina Spirit15-1
9.Hot Rod Charlie8-1
10.Midnight Bourbon20-1
11.Dynamic One20-1
12.Helium50-1
13.Hidden Stash50-1
14.Essential Quality2-1
15.Rock Your World5-1
16.King Fury20-1
17.Highly Motivated10-1
18.Super Stock30-1
19.Soup and Sandwich30-1
20.Bourbonic30-1

As you can see, this year’s favorites are Essential Quality (2-1), Rock Your World (5-1) and Known Agenda (6-1). Of course, there’s plenty of off-track drama with odds-on favorite Essential Quality and his owner: Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

Bet on the Kentucky Derby at TVG

You can place your Kentucky Derby bets online at TVG, which is a legal horse betting app and streaming service in the United States.

TVG is the best-known advanced-deposit wagering (ADW) site.

With ADW sites, horse bettors just need to deposit money to fund their accounts. Once they do, they’re permitted to place bets. And it’s not just the Kentucky Derby. TVG bettors can wager on horse races from across the globe.

The site boasts a host of features, including:

  • Numerous deposit options
  • Frequent promotions
  • Race previews
  • Handicapping advice
  • Racing schedules
  • Live video streams from select tracks

Virginia also flush with OTB facilities

You can also place a horse bet in person, without needing to go to Churchill Downs.

Virginia has a number of off-track betting (OTB) facilities throughout the commonwealth. Some of these racebooks are located in Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums, which also feature historical horse racing (HHR) machines.

The betting parlors usually feature a wall of TV screens that simulcast races from tracks all over the world. There are both betting windows and self-service betting terminals where you can place your bets. More often than not, you’ll find some fellow horseplayers eager to discuss the races (or to commiserate about a photo-finish loss).

In fact, on any given day, Virginia OTB locations simulcast horse races from nearly 20 racetracks.

Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums are located in:

  • Dumfries (18069 Triangle Shopping Plaza)
  • Hampton (1996 Power Plant Parkway)
  • New Kent (10515 Colonial Downs Parkway)
  • Richmond (6807 Midlothian Turnpike)
  • Vinton (1135 Vinyard Road)

See live horse racing in Virginia

Perhaps you really want to see some live horse racing. Well, good news: Virginians don’t need to cross state borders to do so.

Colonial Downs Racetrack will host three months of live racing beginning in July. General admission tickets and parking are both free. Reserved grandstand seats start at $5 each.

Colonial Downs Racetrack is located in New Kent County in the eastern part of Virginia. It’s also home to a Rosie’s Gaming Emporium.

The horses will fight it out on the track every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from July 19 to Sept. 1. The post time is 1:45 p.m. for each of the 21 race dates.

Live horse racing Virginia has been a long time coming. Colonial Downs attempted to go through with its 2020 season after eliminating in-person attendance. But the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a series of positive tests, and officials were ultimately forced to shut down for the year.

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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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