The Kentucky Derby is one of the oldest sporting events in U.S. history, with the Spring race dating back more than 120 years.
Despite the storied history, many sports bettors find it hard to place a wager because the odds can be confusing and the betting structure is a bit different from standard sports bets. Because of the unique nature of the event, many books don’t offer odds on the Derby at all.
However, both DraftKings and FanDuel have players covered with their specialized apps for wagering on the Run for the Roses. FanDuel offers its FanDuel Racing product, which is available as a standalone app in some states (including Pennsylvania). In other states, you can bet right through the FanDuel Sportsbook.
DraftKings has its own horse racing app called DK Horse, though its available in just a handful of states.
TwinSpires is available in 39 states, including Pennsylvania, and you can get $400 in bonus bets with offer code PIRACING.
With that in mind, we’ll give readers a brief overview of the event with some historical context and explain the nature of the odds and where they can wager. In short answer to the headline question: yes you can bet the Kentucky Derby at FanDuel or DraftKings.
The first Kentucky Derby, or The Run for the Roses as it is often called, was run on May 17, 1875 at the famed Churchill Downs track in Louisville, Kentucky which was constructed the previous year explicitly for the race.
Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of explorer William Clark, hosted the Louisville Jockey Club and leased land from two relatives — John and Henry Churchill — to develop the race track.
Clark modeled the American race after the British classic, the Epsom Derby which itself dates back to 1780. Clark was enticed by the spectacle of horse racing abroad and wanted to bring a similar excitement to the states.
Fifteen three-year-old Thoroughbred horses galloped a mile and a half through the dirt in mid-May while roughly 10,000 fans looked on for the first official Kentucky Derby. The Derby became rapidly successful and by the late 1800s it was one of the premiere American sporting events. The name “Churchill Downs” was not officially adopted for the racetrack until 1883 and the length of the race was shortened to a mile and a quarter in 1896.
Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark committed suicide on April 22, 1899, less than two weeks before the 25th Kentucky Derby. After that, Colonel Matt J. Winn took control of the event.
The early 1900s marked a period of adjustment for the Derby, as officials brought back the pari-mutuel betting machines, lowered the minimum bet and reorganized the entrance fees.
By the mid 1910s the Derby reached its arguable peak of popularity and was now one of Americas biggest events. Sir Barton was the first Triple Crown winner in 1919, the first radio broadcast of the event came out in 1925 and that same year Bill Corum — a New York sports reporter — coined the phrase “Run for the Roses”.
The 1930s marked another uptick for the Derby as Gallant Fox won the Triple Crown, the race is broadcast internationally for the first time and crowd size begins to swell yet again.
In 1949, the Derby was broadcast on television for the first time and by 1952 roughly 12 million viewers tuned in to watch the race.
The Kentucky Derby expanded further during the second half of the 20th century, with historic crowd numbers in the mid 70s, simulcasts to racetracks around the country in the early 80s and betting expansion into futures during the late 90s.
The Derby broke another crowd record in 2012 with an astounding 165,307 fans in attendance. Three years later, American Pharoah wins the Kentucky Derby and eventually wins the Triple Crown, breaking a three decade drought.
In 2018, Justify wins the Race for the Roses and also eventually secures the Triple Crown.
The Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes make up the Triple Crown which is one of the highest achievements in American horse racing.
FanDuel is offering horse racing fans an excellent promotion ahead of the storied Kentucky Derby.
As part of the No Sweat Derby Bet, both existing and new players can get up to $20 back in bonus bets by clicking the module linked above and inputting the relevant information.
Notably, this promotion is only eligible for users who place a straight win bet on one horse. Exotic bets will not qualify.
As is the case with other promotions, only cash wagers will trigger this offer and promotions using credits or other bonus bets will not initiate this offer.
DraftKings, which established a separate app for horse racing called DK Horse, has an excellent deposit match offer for Kentucky Derby fans.
New or existing users can get a 100 percent deposit match bonus up to $250 based on how much they wager. The minimum deposit for this is $25 and users need to wager twice that, in this case $50, to receive the minimum deposit match of $25.
From there, users will get a $25 bonus for every $50 wagered. For example, if a users places a cash wager of $100, they’re eligible to get up to $50 in bonus cash. If they place a cash wager of $400, they’re eligible for $200 in bonus cash.
This promotion is restricted to customers who are at least 18 years old (excluding Indiana and Washington where players must be at least 21 years old), have an active DraftKings account or register a DraftKings account with the code HORSE and make the minimum deposit of $25 during the opt-in period.
As noted, the customers’ deposit will dictate their potential bonus payout. Unlike other promotions, these bonuses will be paid out in cash and will be distributed to user’s account within 1-3 business days.
Critically though, show wagers will not count towards the playthrough requirements. Qualifying wagers must settle with seven days of the opt-in period’s expiration on May, 7. Players must place wagers of at least $500 during the playthrough period to be eligible for the $250 deposit match.
Betting on the Kentucky Derby is structured a bit differently from other major sporting events and we’ll get into those details in the sections below, but before that it’s best to go over where betting on the race is legal.
DraftKings and FanDuel have both developed separate apps exclusively for horse racing. Any players looking to wager with DraftKings will have to download the DK Horse Racing and Betting app.
Players in select states, including Illinois, will be able to wager on the Derby through the traditional FanDuel Sportsbook app or the newer FanDuel Racing app.
Users in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming can use either app to wager on the race. Bettors in the remaining legal FanDuel states will have to use either the FanDuel Racing app or TVG.
Betting on the Kentucky is structured a bit differently from other sporting events.
Essentially, bets on the Derby can be broken down by their complexity, with simple straight bets or more complex — often called exotic — wagers.
Straight bets are relatively standard and readers will likely note some similarities to other straight wagers. The easiest straight bets are: win, place and show. A win bet is a wager that one particular horse will finish first, a place bet is a wager on a specific horse to finish in the top two and finally, a show bet is a wager that one horse will finish in the top three.
These are usually the most common bets at the derby.
Exotic wagers are predicated on predicting the order of multiple horses or the winners of several races and are categorized as either vertical or horizontal wagers.
Verticals like exacta, trifecta, superfecta, and Super High Five are where a bettor predicts the initial two, three, four or even five horses that finish. Horizontals like Daily Double, Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5, and Pick 6 are when players wager on different races.
Each tier for both vertical and horizontal wagers has a different minimum bet requirement.
Understanding the odds for horse racing can be complicated, as they differ from traditional sports betting odds.
American horse racing odds are pari-mutuel so the specific prices are based on how other people are betting. The more money bettors put on a specific horse, the better that horse’s odds are and vice versa.
Churchill Downs commonly releases odds the morning of race day and officially betting opens the day before the Run for the Roses at 9 a.m. ET.
As noted in the sections above, odds for the Kentucky Derby are structured a bit differently from other sporting events. Largely because the odds themselves are directly related to how much money the public is putting down on a specific horse.
Notably, all of the horses save one in the top five are American thoroughbreds. Derma Sotogake is from Japan and is the only international horse in the top five.
With that in mind, readers can review the table below to get a sense of where each horse sits in the lead up to the Run for the Roses.
Odds courtesy of FanDuel
|Angel of Empire||8-1|
Given what we know about Kentucky Derby odds, notably that they are pari-mutuel, the table below will indicate to bettors that the public has put a substantial amount of money behind Forte and Tapit Trice.
Odds for the Kentucky Derby are a bit different from other major sporting events. With the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals the World Series or even the Stanley Cup, odds are decided by bookmakers based on a variety of factors like injuries, fatigue, coaching staff, etc.
However, Kentucky Derby odds are pari-mutuel so the odds one horse gets are directly correlated to the amount of the money the public is wagering on that specific horse. The more favorable the odds, the more the public favors that horse.
For this year’s Run for the Roses, Forte is heavily favored which indicates that a substantial amount of the public has put money on Forte to win. However, Tapit Trice and Angel of Empire both have decent odds and could payout well if they show or place.
Yes and no, depending on what state you’re betting from. Due to the restrictions around horse racing betting in specific states, both DrafKings and FanDuel have developed different apps for users to wager through for this year’s Kentucky Derby.
FanDuel Racing and DK Horse are the two alternates that players can use. If you are wagering through DraftKings you’ll need to download the new app. However, bettors in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wyoming can use either the FanDuel Sportsbook app or the FanDuel Racing app to bet on the Kentucky Derby.
Bettors in a legal FanDuel state outside of the ones listed above will have to download the FanDuel Racing app and can only wager through that.