2013 Kentucky Derby Betting Tips
by Trevor Whenham - 4/23/2013
It’s almost Kentucky Derby time — the greatest two minutes in sports. To get you ready to dominate the betting on that great event, here are five Kentucky Derby betting tips to guide you in the right direction. Check out Doc’s Sports daily leading up to the race as I help give you the best chance to beat your bookie.
Look beyond the elite contenders
The top contenders in the Kentucky Derby each year always look impressive, and it can be easy to convince yourself that they aren’t going to be beaten. This year is certainly no exception. Verrazano is unbeaten and visually stunning. Orb was dominant in his last outing, and his trainer is very excited about him. Revolutionary keeps improving, and with Calvin Borel aboard it seems like fate. Goldencents is the class of the West Coast, and everything part owner Rick Pitino touches lately turns to gold.
What we have learned time and again in the Derby, though, is that any horse can win. Mine That Bird was the ultimate reminder of that in 2009. He’s not alone, though. I’ll Have Another was 15/1 last year. Animal Kingdom won at 21/1 in 2011. Giacomo was 50/1 in 2005.
With 20 horses in the race, chaos is inevitable. It is almost impossible for a horse to get a completely clean trip. What matters, then, is how well the horses can handle adversity. Because of that, it is very important to look beyond just the favorites when crafting your bets. Whether you are making win bets or playing the exotics, you need to use several combinations and deal with several potential outcomes. Handicapping this race requires a shotgun, not a sniper rifle.
Think about the prices
You need to pay close attention to the prices that the horses will pay to make sure you aren’t making bets you will regret. If there is a strong favorite — and Verrazano could be fairly strong this year — then you probably can’t afford to bet him and still go deep into the race. Even if he does win you could find yourself in a hole if you didn’t pay attention to the payouts when crafting your bets.
Forget about most of the trends
Kentucky Derby analysis always centers around trends and statistics. It’s very compelling to look back at what has happened in the long history of this race to find clues for this year. For example, Verrazano would be the first horse since 1882 to win the race without racing at least once as a two year old.
Unfortunately, there are a few problems with relying on these trends in your decision-making. First, with so many years of history you can find multiple trends to support or refute any horse in the field. Second, in most trends the sample size is so small that it isn’t statistically relevant. Third, it can be easy to become confused or overwhelmed by the information that is out there, and that can lead to bad decision-making when you are crafting your bets.
Most significantly, the horses don’t care about the trends. Every Derby field is unique and very different. You need to focus less on the trends and more on the fundamentals that will actually determine the race. Can the horses handle the distance? Does the race set up well for them? Do they have the connections to win?
Pace, Pace, Pace
If you are only going to focus on one factor in the Derby, think about the way the race is likely to be run. Which horses are going to set the pace? If it is just one or two horses looking to lead then it could be slow, but several frontrunners could lead to a blistering start. Deep closers do better with a fast early pace to chase because it tires out the rest of the horses and sets up the late charge. They also need room to make their move, though, so if the middle of the pack is likely to be congested then they could be in trouble. If several horses want to sit just off the pace then there won’t be room for all of them, and it will be harder for those horses to shine.
As the saying goes, the pace makes the race. You need to picture what you imagine the pace will look like then handicap accordingly.
Keep your perspective
The Kentucky Derby is the most fun race of the year to handicap. The rest aren’t even close. It’s also by far the hardest race of the year to handicap.
With so many horses — each being asked to do more than they have ever done before, and more than they are capable of in most cases — absolutely anything can happen, and the outcome is very tough to predict. When you are trying to make your fortune in this race, then, remember that the primary focus of Kentucky Derby betting should be having fun.
Winning is a bonus, and the challenge of this handicapping is fascinating, but the first Saturday in May is the time to relax, have a mint julep or three, and enjoy the biggest spectacle in sports.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
Most Recent Kentucky Derby Handicapping
- 2020 Kentucky Derby Long Shots: Expert Advice and Betting Tips for Finding Value
- 2020 Kentucky Derby Predictions
- 2020 Kentucky Oaks Predictions and Race Analysis
- Kentucky Derby Field - The Lineup and Morning Line Odds
- Best Trifecta Bets for the 2020 Kentucky Derby
- 2020 Kentucky Derby Horse Numbers: Post Positions and Expert Analysis
- 2020 Kentucky Derby Wagering Strategies
- 2020 Kentucky Derby Betting Trends
- Kentucky Derby Odds - Betting the 2020 Kentucky Derby
- 2020 Kentucky Derby Trivia Questions and Answers