Betting on The Kentucky Derby 


One of the most famous and prestigious horse races in the world, the history of the Kentucky Derby stretches back to 1875, when Aristides crossed the finish line as the winner of the very first Derby. Known as the Run for the Roses – due to the fact the winner is draped in a carpet of the flowers – and also as “the most exciting two minutes in sports”, the Derby is held every year on the first Saturday in May under the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. 

The Derby is run at the “American classic” distance of 1 1/4 miles (ten furlongs) on the dirt track. It currently offers a total winning purse of $5 million, with $3 million going to the winner: a $2 million purse hike compared to 2023! The race features up to 20 of the best three-year-old Thoroughbred horses in the country. Between this race and the Kentucky Oaks, the three-year-old fillies’ feature, the day before, this is the betting event of the year!

Restricted to three-year-old horses, the Derby signifies the very basic idea behind the history of racing – who has the fastest young horse in their barn? It also carries major significance as the first leg of the American Triple Crown series. Obviously, only one horse can win the Derby, and then that horse is the only one with a shot at sweeping both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, achieving legendary status as a Triple Crown winner.

Since recognition of the Triple Crown started with the first running of the Derby (the Preakness first ran two years earlier, and the Belmont debuted in 1867) only 13 horses have managed the feat.

Kentucky Derby Betting Guide

No wonder every horseplayer enjoys betting on the Kentucky Derby: not only is it one of the most exciting races of the year, but the 20-horse field means big payouts in exotics and even in the win pool. In recent years long shots like Rich Strike and Country House have offered enormous win payouts, and even if a favorite wins there is always a Kentucky Derby longshot who helps exacta, trifecta, and superfecta wagers pay big.

Such is the nature of betting the Derby, where smart handicapping leads to big exotic payouts, especially when the wager is placed with Bovada, our #1 recommended online racebook.

Kentucky Derby Betting Online

When betting on the Kentucky Derby, it pays to play online! There is nothing more convenient than betting from home, on the go, or anywhere with an internet connection. If you bet from one of our recommended online racebooks, you are guaranteed market-leading odds, trusted payouts, and a great betting experience. Our racebooks make horse racing betting as easy as any kind of sports betting!

These racebooks also offer bonuses that bettors will never find at the racetrack. From welcome bonuses to horse racing rebates to exclusive promo codes and bonus codes, you’ll make more money betting the Kentucky Derby from an online sportsbook. Let our expert recommendations and reviews take the mystery out of how to bet on the Kentucky Derby!

Best Kentucky Derby betting sites

It is no mystery where to bet on the Kentucky Derby. Our experts have done the homework and know what the best betting sites are. These are your best choices for online betting for Kentucky Derby 2024 as well as horse racing betting and even sporting events betting all year long:

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* REMINDER! - you must be of legal age in your state or province to legally wager on thoroughbred or harness horse racing. Please bet responsibly!

Kentucky Derby Trail

If you have ever wondered, how early can you bet on the Kentucky Derby? The Road to the Kentucky Derby begins in September with the Iroquois Stakes. Kentucky Derby futures typically begin when the prep races start, and continue until the Run for the Roses. Kentucky Derby betting payouts can be extra sweet if you bet early and you choose the right horse!

It runs through the autumn, past the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and on to the traditional winter tracks. It reaches its high points in races like the Arkansas Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, Santa Anita Derby, and the Wood Memorial in New York.

In short, once you have your account created for the best online betting sites, bettors can play the Kentucky Derby most of the year, all the way until Derby Day!

2024 Kentucky Derby Bets

With Kentucky Derby betting online, you can bet the you can play the same types of bets you would from the track and more from the comfort of your own home. This includes straight wagers like win bets, place bets, and show bets on each horse. These are simple: if your horse finishes first, second, or third respectively, you win! 

You can also shoot for a huge score with exotic wagers like exactas, trifectas, superfectas, and multi-race wagers. Dive deep into the past performances; these can be harder to hit, but you can win life-changing amounts of money if you are correct.

Make sure to use a Kentucky Derby Betting Odds calculator to find out how much your wager costs and ensure that you are getting the right odds on the horses you are playing. If the Kentucky Derby betting payouts are bigger than you would expect given the horses’ actual chances, that is an overlay and it’s the perfect time to bet!

2024 Kentucky Derby Best Bets

The 2024 Kentucky Derby is coming up on Saturday, May 4, 2024. While the official entries are still to be determined, and injury or other factors may still come into play in setting the final field, the 100-point prep races have been completed. The field is getting better set by the day, so it makes sense to meet the major contenders!

2024 Kentucky Derby Odds

These are the odds on the horses at the top of the 2024 Kentucky Derby betting market. Make sure to follow them all the way until post time. They could change based on how they are training, if the trainer announces a jockey change, what the post position draw is, or if a horse defects from the field.

Track the Kentucky Derby online betting odds all the way until post time. If you see a better price than you think you should get on a horse you think can be the Kentucky Derby winner, it’s the perfect time to place your bet and lock in your odds! Remember, you can only do that when you bet the Kentucky Derby online: if you bet at the track, pari-mutuel odds will change until post time. So, playing online is better.

Sierra Leone+300+300+300
Forever Young+800+1000+1000
Catching Freedom+1000+1200+1200
Just a Touch+1600+2000+2000

2024 Kentucky Derby Favorites

The favorite in most markets for the Kentucky Derby is Sierra Leone, who impressively won the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) for trainer Chad Brown. He won the Risen Star (G2) before that, meaning that he shined in both of his Kentucky Derby prep races as a three-year-old. In the Blue Grass he was also able to turn the tables on Dornoch, the horse who nosed him out in the Remsen (G2) last fall.

The other horse taking a lot of money, and either just behind Sierra Leone or even co-favored in some books, is Fierceness, the champion juvenile of 2023 trained by Todd Pletcher. He is impressive on his best, though he sometimes throws in less dazzling efforts. His sophomore debut was one of those less exciting races, a third-place try behind Hades in the Holy Bull (G3). But then he came back and won the Florida Derby by 13 1/2 lengths, looking in a completely different league. If Fierceness gets a good start in the Kentucky Derby, that version of him may show up again and he could win.

2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders

Dornoch ran only fourth in the Blue Grass, but trainer Danny Gargan was up front that he entered Dornoch in the race to try to teach him to rate. Dornoch's best chance will come if he can use his natural speed to be as forward as possible. But, if he can, he intrigues. Horses with speed often shien in the Derby, and he is also a full brother to 2023 Kentucky Derby winner Mage, with an appealing Classic pedigree.

If it looks like the pace will get hot, which will become clear as the Derby field solidifies, get a look at Catching Freedom. He is an improving horse coming out of the Louisiana Derby (G2), a race that has only become a more important prep as they stretched out the distance to 1 3/16 miles. He closed smartly into an honest but not torrid pace in that victory, and could do that again in Kentucky.

Forever Young is taking a lot of money in Kentucky Derby futures markets. He is perfect in five starts, including a run in the UAE Derby (G2). He is getting better as the distances get longer, and looks to be Japan's best chance yet for a Kentucky Derby winner. However, be careful not to take too short a price on him, as the records of UAE Derby winners and international shippers have been less than impressive.

2024 Kentucky Derby Longshot

Expert picks are never complete without a longshot. Keep your eye on the second horse across the wire in the Louisiana Derby, Honor Marie. He was outkicked by Catching Freedom in the Lousiana Derby, but the race was a clear step forward from his previous outing in the Risen Star. The return to Churchill Downs can also move Honor Marie forward, as he won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) last autumn over the course.