10 Ways to play the Kentucky Derby

The 10 ways to bet the Kentucky Derby
By Nick Tammaro

There is an endless supply of wagering options for the Kentucky Derby, from multi-race plays that start as early as Friday and as late as Race 11 on Saturday to intrarace bets that require you to pick the first two, three, four or even five finishers!  Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to bet the race, depending on your opinion:

1.) Bet your top pick to win.  I picked Epicenter and am unlikely to bet him to win given his final odds.  There’s a reasonable chance he is the recipient of a large wager from “Mattress Mack” who is trying to hedge a furniture promotion in his Houston showroom.

2.) Bet exactas with the horses you like underneath.  That is a real option for me given that I picked two horses who will offer value right behind Epicenter.  I will play two exactas of Epicenter over Messier and Crown Pride for sure.

3.) Find a longshot to key underneath in the gimmick bets.  The candidate for that approach, to me, is Tawny Port.  He is a steady, grinding type that can slide into the 3rd or 4th spot to juice up the payoff in a trifecta or superfecta.  The key to hitting this type of bet is to narrow down your top two slots in the wagering.  For example, a trifecta that goes 3,6,7 with 1,3,6,7,8,10,16 with 18 will cost you $9 for each 50 cent bet and is sure to pay well in excess of that should it hit.

4.) Shoot the moon and go for the Super Hi-5!  This is for the largest budgets. However, if you have a firm opinion on who is going to win, the endeavor becomes much more appealing.  Say you are with me on Epicenter and single him in the top spot.  Then you require yourself to be right about 2nd and 3rd and then fold in some contenders in the 4thand 5th spots.  A ticket could look like 3 with 6,7 with 1,6,7,10 with 1,6,7,8,10,16,18 with 1,6,7,8,10,16,18 and that costs $120. Obviously it’s designed more for the serious player with the bigger budget.

5.) You can box the best prices you like in the exacta.  I am not a big exacta box fan, but this does give you coverage that might compensate for a shaky opinion.  Say you like Messier, Crown Pride and Cyberknife, and might even think Charge It is a possibility for the exacta.  A box of 6,7,8,16 costs you $12 for $1 and gives you plenty of rooting interest.

6.) Handicap the race prior and smash that daily double.  That is an option if you have an opinion in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic.  I like Public Sector and Tribhuvan in that field and could see myself playing two daily doubles 3-3 and 4-3.  Why not give yourself a chance at a score and throw in Messier and Crown Pride?  Those are $2 base wagers and can have a strong return.

7.) What could be more super than the superfecta?  The Derby super almost always pays five figures.  Have a strong opinion on 5 contenders?  Box them for the minimum of $1 and it costs you $120.  My 5 horse box would be 3,6,7,8,16

8.) Some traditionalists would say to bet across the board.  I haven’t made a place bet in years and generally use show bets to play against bridge jumpers!  However, the best across the board candidate to me would be Crown Pride, #7, who will probably return over $80 total to win, place and show if he wins this race.

9.) Wheels are the way to go.  If you want to make serious trifecta wagers, you have to wheel.  In option #3, we used a wheel with Tawny Port underneath.  If you want to do it keying your best plays, then a trifecta that went 3,6,7 with 3,6,7 with 1,3,6,7,8,10,16,18 will cost you $18 for each 50c play and can give you lots of action.  Move the 3rd slot up in case chaos ensues for another $18 and you can really score.

10.) Drop all the names into a hat and draw one out.  All kidding aside, that might be the most fun for your Derby party!  If that’s what you’re resorting to in an effort to get some action, just play a cold 3-6 and root your lungs out for the greatest two minutes in sports!

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