2024 Kentucky Derby Betting Guide

How to bet on the Kentucky Derby in New Jersey
kentucky derby

The famed Kentucky Derby takes place annually in early May at Churchill Downs. Twenty of the nation’s top three-year-old thoroughbreds compete in the event dubbed as the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” and also known as “The Run for the Roses.”

First run in 1875, this event is the signature horse race of the season, captivating the public and elevating the stature of the sport. It is the first jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes two weeks later and the Belmont Stakes three weeks beyond that.

Here’s a Kentucky Derby primer and guide for racing and betting fans in New Jersey. Learn more about the race, Derby betting odds, changing history, some memorable moments, and key handicapping variables.

Best Kentucky Derby betting app in NJ

Get a No Sweat First Bet up to $20 at FanDuel Racing for Belmont Stakes
$20 bonus
No Sweat First bet
Up to $20 Back No Sweat First Bet
PLUS Bet $5 Get $200 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Easy Deposits, Fast Withdrawals
To Claim: Click Play Now

How to bet on the Derby in NJ

If you are one of the 100,000+ fans who like to watch the race live, head to Churchill Downs in Kentucky to place your bet on Derby Day. But if that is not your first choice, New Jersey offers a slate of horse betting options.

  • New Jersey racetracks: There are three active racetracks in NJ that have betting on horses and are simulcast facilities. The Meadowlands, Monmouth Park and Freehold Raceway are simulcast facilities. All three will take bets on the Derby.
  • Off-track betting facilities: New Jersey has a host of off-track betting facilities in and around the state, all of which offer Derby betting.
  • Atlantic City casinos: Borgata is the only casino in NJ with a racebook. Simulcast is also available.
  • Bet online: In New Jersey, betting online is easy and legal. Visit FanDuel Racing to open an account and bet on horses.

2024 Kentucky Derby odds

The 2024 Kentucky Derby ran on Saturday, May 4. One week before that, the position post draw took place to determine where each of the 20 qualifying horses would start. The opening odds, aka the “morning line odds,” were also announced. Here’s how that draw went along with those early odds:

Post PositionHorseMorning Line Odds
2Sierra Leone3-1
3Mystik Dan20-1
4Catching Freedom8-1
6Just Steel20-1
7Honor Marie20-1
8Just A Touch10-1
10T O Password30-1
11Forever Young10-1
12Track Phantom20-1
13West Saratoga50-1
15Domestic Product30-1
16Grand Mo The First50-1
20Society Man50-1
21Epic Ride50-1
Mugatu (Alternate)

Leading up to the race, advance deposit wagering opened up and when bettors began placing their wagers those odds changed. Some of them bet on eventual winner Mystik Dan, pushing his odds down to about 18-to-1 by post time. That still meant a nice payout for those who did pick the winner, as a $2 bet on Mystik Dan to win paid out $39.22.

Common bet types for Kentucky Derby

  • Win: Selecting the top horse. Odds are reasonable for any winner in this race, given the top competition. The minimum bet is usually $2.
  • Place: A horse to finish second or higher.
  • Show: A horse to finish third or higher.
  • Exactas: Selecting the order of the top two finishers. It’s always good to box them. You’d hate to have the right two horses in the wrong order.
  • Trifectas: Picking the top three finishers. Wagered via straight bet, a box of three or more horses, or a partial wheel.
  • The latter option involves taking one’s favorite horse in the first position, with several additional selections in the second and third slot. It can also be wagered by placing one’s favorite horse in the second or third position with the other selections. The key is the horse must finish in the exact spot where he is played and the others must finish in the top 3.
  • Superfecta: Picking the top four horses. Same combinations for trifectas can be uses. The superfecta is often lucrative, but extremely hard to hit.

Costs for many common bets

A $1 trifecta box with three horses cost $6. A $1 trifecta box with four horses cost $24. The $1 superfecta box with four horses is $24.

Thinking razzle-dazzle? A $1 key, putting your favorite horse in the first position and three others in the second and third slots, is $6. For $12, you can place four horses in the second and third slots. The “key” for this bet is that your favorite horse must win the race.

The same principle applies in putting your horse in the second position.

Derby betting strategy

If you love a particular horse to win, invest strongly on the win line. The worst feeling for many players is to pick the winner of a race and not cash because the horses in second and third place were not the ones you played.

If you believe the favorites will run in the top two spots, consider playing a hefty exacta box.

Another option is to play one’s two favorite horses in the first and second slots, place a few others in the third and fourth positions, and have pretty good coverage on a potentially lucrative superfecta for reasonable money.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby

While there have been some impressive long shot winners (Donerail 91-1, 1913; Giacomo, 50-1, 2005; Mine That Bird, 50-1, 2009; Rich Strike, 80-1, 2022), the race has typically been dominated by favorites.

That happened by design with a rule change that alters the makeup of the race. For bettors, it’s good to know the race is now tilted toward favorites.

Before 2012, horses qualified for the Derby-based on earnings of stakes races.

That changed with the Road to the Kentucky Derby system implemented for qualifying races. It completely disregards sprint races and places heavy weight on recent results. Sprinters don’t have a place in this Derby. A horse must be effective at a long distance to have a chance at entering the field.

How it works

The points system has changed the way horses are prepared for the Derby, the composition of the field, and how the race itself is run given the absence of pure sprinters that normally ensure a fast early pace.

This means there are now fewer “speed duels,” which compromise distance horses by locking them into a sizzling early pace with sprinters.

In earlier years, that had set the stage for the front runners to tire and be overtaken in the stretch. Mine That Bird and Giacomo, for instance, rallied from nearly last to first.

The pace change means the early leaders run the first half-mile in roughly 47 seconds, rather than the 45-ish area they had been pushed into with previous speed duels. Horses now get into position around the first turn and their jockeys then try to relax them so they can fire on all cylinders during the home stretch.

There have been far fewer lead changes in recent Kentucky Derbys. Horses that have been starting in the back of the pack have been staying there.

In recent years, the “chalk” (industry jargon for favorites) has been able to “talk the talk and walk the walk.”

Previous Kentucky Derby winners (under the new format)

2014 California Chrome 5-2
2015 American Pharoah 5-2
2016 Nyquist2-1
2017 Always Dreaming9-2
2018 Justify5-2
2019Country House65-1
2022Rich Strike80-1
2024Mystik Dan18-1

Has there ever been a disqualification in the Kentucky Derby?

Yes. The first one happened in 2019 when Maximum Security was denied the Derby crown. Maximum Security triumphed and was taken down 22 minutes later because of alleged interference with other horses on the final turn.

Racing purists cried foul over the disqualification because rugged traffic conditions and jostling on the turn happen in each Derby and come with the logistics of a 20-horse field. More glaring collisions over the years have been ignored.

The controversy called attention to the large 20-horse field and the presence of spectators along the backstretch rail who are not there for most races throughout the year. Spectators can startle a horse into making a sudden move in the wrong direction.

Country House, a 65-1 choice, was placed first. About $9 million was lost by Maximum Security bettors because of the disqualification.

In 2021, Medina Spirit was the original winner on race day, but a lengthy investigation followed due to suspected illegal drugging of the horse. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission officially named Mandaloun the winner of the race in 2022.

Betting tips for the Kentucky Derby

Before betting on the Derby in New Jersey, it’s important to note a few things about the track and check in on the details via the Daily Racing Form. For instance, the listing of track conditions is important.

They are:

  1. Fast: Normal, and ideal
  2. Good: A heavy, often muddy and tiring track, which usually occurs a day after heavy rain. Speed horses can do poorly in these conditions. Horses from the back of the pack can make big rallies.
  3. Sloppy: Wet. Horses can’t easily get footing, early front-runners do well because they are flinging wet mud into the face of horses behind them.

Information on how horses run on different surfaces will be available in the Daily Racing Form, too. More on that below.

The surface of the track is paramount.

If there is heavy rain, as there was for the 2019 Derby, it will be difficult to assess the merit of each horse. Running in the “slop” will adversely affect many horses. Some can run well on slop. Some hate it.

If you can get an angle on a horse you like, in the slop, be partial to early speed. Maximum Security went from 10-1 one night beforehand to 9-2 by race time last year because the skies opened up just before the race and he was a good speed horse.

That foresight proved to be right. He led most of the way and rallied at the finish.

How to read a Daily Racing Form

Pick up the Daily Racing Form. Local stores or a simulcast facility will have them.

The form shows the running pattern of every horse in each of his races. If you see a listing like 1-1-1-3-3-4, it means the horse broke quickly but could not sustain the pace and faded. You would think this horse unlikely to win if another horse also broke quickly, but would be dangerous if no other horse showed early speed.

If you see something like 4-4-4-3-3-3-2-2-2-1-1 it means the horse can rally and that his running style is “off the pace.” You would want to see an indication that the front speed could tire before playing this horse.

The indicator would be multiple horses showing they like to run near the front early.

The tricky part of this is that there is often more than one horse fitting each type of running style.

Guess that’s why they call it gambling.

In the Racing Form, you can find track conditions for fast (fst), good (gd), or slop (usually slp) next to a horse’s race. There is also a Wet number (normally 200-350) that can be measured against others, to indicate how a horse is likely to compete on the sloppy track.

What are Beyer figures?

Absolutely relevant.

Beyer figures will be in black, indicating the horse’s performance on a given day relative to track conditions. Potential Derby winners will have numbers in the 90s and above 100. You will want to respect any horse with a Beyer figure above 100.

Handicapping the Kentucky Derby

Although significant attention goes to fall and winter races, the Kentucky Derby picture gains full focus with a series of prep races in March and April.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby invariably wins one of these preps.

These events provide matchups between horses that will be helpful in your Kentucky Derby betting. They will also provide a sense of which of these races was run fastest, thus giving a glimpse of who might be the best horse on Sept. 5.

They can also deliver some insight about exacta and trifecta wagering. If two horses finish noses apart in a prep race, they might be a good Kentucky Derby exacta bet or both can be placed in a trifecta wager.

For many of these horses, this will be their final appearance before the Derby.

Kentucky Derby prep races

Below is a list of some of the key prep races to watch for early handicapping. These races take place in late March and early April. If you can’t watch or bet these races live, they are ultimately available on YouTube and can be used for assessing Derby hopefuls.

Louisiana Derby Fairgrounds Race Course, Louisiana1 3/16 miles
Florida Derby Gulfstream Park, Florida1 1/8 miles
Arkansas DerbyOaklawn Park, Arkansas1 1/8 miles
Wood MemorialAqueduct Race Track, New York1 1/8 miles
Santa Anita DerbySanta Anita Park, California1 1/8 miles
Lexington S.Keeneland, Kentucky1 1/16 miles

Prep races and Kentucky Derby winners

Here’s a look at how the last 20 Kentucky Derby winners performed in their final prep race:

YearHorseLast Prep RacePlace
2023MageFlorida DerbySecond
2022 Rich StrikeJeff Ruby SteaksThird
2021MandalounLouisiana DerbySeventh
2020AuthenticHaskell StakesFirst
2019Country House*Louisiana DerbyFourth
2018JustifySanta Anita DerbyFirst
2017Always DreamingFlorida DerbyFirst
2016NyquistFlorida DerbyFirst
2015American PharoahArkansas DerbyFirst
2014California ChromeSanta Anita DerbyFirst
2013OrbFlorida DerbyFirst
2012I'll Have AnotherSanta Anita DerbyFirst
2011Animal KingdomSpiral StakesFirst
2010Super SaverArkansas DerbySecond
2009Mine That BirdSunland DerbyFourth
2008Big BrownFlorida DerbyFirst
2007Street SenseBlue GrassSecond
2006BarbaroFlorida DerbyFirst
2005GiacomoSanta Anita DerbyFourth
2004Smarty JonesArkansas DerbyFirst

Kentucky Derby race history

The Kentucky Derby may very well be the most popular sports event in the US. In fact, the Derby has become a multi-million-dollar spectacle.

More than 150,000 fans jam into Churchill Downs to watch it live. The Derby garners more attendance than other major sports events including the World Series, Super Bowl, and NCAA Final Four.

Its storied history began on May 17, 1875, when the Louisville Jockey Club sponsored the first Kentucky Derby. Fifteen three-year-old thoroughbred horses raced 1 1/2 miles. Aristides was the first winner of the Derby.

Over the course of decades, the Derby has seen its fair share of changes. In 1883, the track is named Churchill Downs for the first time. The length of the race was shortened to 1 1/4 miles starting in 1896. And the red rose became the official flower of the Derby in 1904.

By 1931, the Kentucky Derby is permanently scheduled for the first Saturday of May. This allowed the three key races of the Triple Crown — Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes — to have a consistent schedule.

There have been only 13 Triple Crown winners in horse racing history: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), American Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018).

Which horse is the GOAT in Kentucky Derby history?

Secretariat did something in the 1973 Kentucky Derby that never occurred before, or since. He ran each quarter of a mile faster than the one before. That made him a logical choice to run even better in the 1973 Belmont Stakes which he did, smashing the runner-up by a record 31 lengths.Kentucky Derby

Secretariat’s 1:59.40 winning time remains the Kentucky Derby record. It was also the first Derby run in under two minutes. The second was from the horse who finished second in that race, Sham, who was two lengths back at roughly 1:59.80.

The third was Monarchos, who romped home with a time of 1:59.97 in 2001.

Secretariat is still considered the gold standard of Kentucky Derby racing. Because the distance of 1 1/4 miles never changes, horses can be compared from different eras. One second in horse racing is equivalent to about five lengths.

By that barometer, Secretariat would still be defeating modern-age winners handily. He would romp not only over other Kentucky Derby winners, but Triple Crown winners.

Want to compare and have some fun checking the myriad list of Derby winners?

Assess five lengths for every one-second difference between the winning time of Secretariat and the others and you can project how Secretariat would have done against previous Derby winners.

He would have beaten Justify, the last Triple Crown winner, by roughly 25 lengths in the Derby!

Kentucky Derby winners, 1875-2024

This is a list of every Kentucky Derby winner and shows not only the event’s rich history, but the unparalleled success of Secretariat.

2024Mystik DanBrian Hernandez Jr.2:03.34
2023MageJavier Castellano2:01.57
2022Rich StrikeSonny Leon2:02.61
2021MandalounFlorent Geroux2:01:02
2020AuthenticJohn Velazquez2:00.61
2019Country HouseFlavien Prat2:03.98
2018Justify *Mike E. Smith2:04.20
2017Always DreamingJohn R. Velazquez2:03.59
2016NyquistMario Gutierrez2:01:31
2015American Pharoah *Victor Espinoza2:03.02
2014California ChromeVictor Espinoza2:03.66
2013OrbJoel Rosario2:02.89
2012I'll Have AnotherMario Gutierrez2:01.83
2011Animal KingdomJohn Velazquez2:02.04
2010Super SaverCalvin Borel2:04.45
2009Mine That BirdCalvin Borel2:02.66
2008Big BrownKent Desormeaux2:01.82
2007Street SenseCalvin Borel2:02.17
2006BarbaroEdgar Prado2:01.36
2005GiacomoMike Smith2:02.75
2004Smarty JonesStewart Elliott2:04.06
2003Funny CideJosé Santos2:01.19
2002War EmblemVictor Espinoza2:01.13
2001MonarchosJorge Chavez1:59.97
2000Fusaichi PegasusKent Desormeaux02:01
1999CharismaticChris Antley2:03.29
1998Real QuietKent Desormeaux2:02 1/5
1997Silver CharmGary Stevens2:02 2/5
1996GrindstoneJerry Bailey2:01
1995Thunder GulchGary Stevens2:01 1/5
1994Go for GinChris McCarron2:03 3/5
1993Sea HeroJerry Bailey02:02
1992Lil E. TeePat Day02:03
1991Strike the GoldChris Antley02:03
1990UnbridledCraig Perret02:02
1989Sunday SilencePatrick Valenzuela02:05
1988Winning ColorsGary Stevens2:02 1/5
1987AlyshebaChris McCarron02:03
1986FerdinandWilliam Shoemaker2:02 4/5
1985Spend a BuckAngel Cordero, Jr.2:00 1/5
1984SwaleLaffit Pincay, Jr.2:02 2/5
1983Sunny's HaloEddie Delahoussaye2:02 1/5
1982Gato Del SolEddie Delahoussaye2:02 2/5
1981Pleasant ColonyJorge Velasquez02:02
1980Genuine RiskJacinto Vasquez02:02
1979Spectacular BidRonnie Franklin2:02 2/5
1978Affirmed *Steve Cauthen2:01 1/5
1977Seattle Slew *Jean Cruguet2:02 1/5
1976Bold ForbesAngel Cordero, Jr.2:01 3/5
1975Foolish PleasureJacinto Vasquez02:02
1974CannonadeAngel Cordero, Jr.02:04
1973Secretariat *Ron Turcotte1:59 2/5
1972Riva RidgeRon Turcotte2:01 4/5
1971Canonero IIGustavo Avila2:03 1/5
1970Dust CommanderMike Manganello2:03 2/5
1969Majestic PrinceWilliam Hartack2:01 4/5
1968Forward PassIsmael Valenzuela2:02 1/5
1967Proud ClarionRobert Ussery2:00 3/5
1966Kauai KingDon Brumfield02:02
1965Lucky DebonairWilliam Shoemaker2:01 1/5
1964Northern DancerWilliam Hartack02:00
1963ChateaugayBraulio Baeza2:01 4/5
1962DecidedlyWilliam Hartack2:00 2/5
1961Carry BackJohn Sellers02:04
1960Venetian WayWilliam Hartack2:02 2/5
1959Tomy LeeWilliam Shoemaker2:02 1/5
1958Tim TamIsmael Valenzuela02:05
1957Iron LiegeWilliam Hartack2:01 1/5
1956NeedlesDavid Erb2:03 2/5
1955SwapsWilliam Shoemaker2:01 4/5
1954DetermineRaymond York02:03
1953Dark StarHenry Moreno02:02
1952Hill GailEddie Arcaro2:01 3/5
1951Count TurfConn McCreary2:02 3/5
1950MiddlegroundWilliam Boland2:01 3/5
1949PonderSteve Brooks2:04 1/5
1948Citation *Eddie Arcaro2:05 2/5
1947Jet PilotEric Guerin2:06 4/5
1946Assault *Warren Mehrtens2:06 3/5
1945Hoop Jr.Eddie Arcaro02:07
1944PensiveConn McCreary2:04 1/5
1943Count Fleet *John Longden02:04
1942Shut OutWayne D. Wright2:04 2/5
1941Whirlaway *Eddie Arcaro2:01 2/5
1940GallahadionCarroll Bierman02:05
1939JohnstownJames Stout2:03 2/5
1938LawrinEddie Arcaro2:04 4/5
1937War Admiral *Charle Kurtsinger2:03 1/5
1936Bold VentureIra Hanford2:03 3/5
1935Omaha *William Saunders02:05
1934CavalcadeMack Garner02:04
1933Brokers TipDon Meade2:06 4/5
1932Burgoo KingBasil James2:05 1/5
1931Twenty GrandCharle Kurtsinger2:01 4/5
1930Gallant Fox *Earl Sande2:07 3/5
1929Clyde Van DusenLinus McAtee2:10 4/5
1928Reigh CountCharle Lang2:10 2/5
1927WhiskeryLinus McAtee02:06
1926Bubbling OverAlbert Johnson2:03 4/5
1925Flying EbonyEarl Sande2:07 3/5
1924Black GoldJohn D. Mooney2:05 1/5
1923ZevEarl Sande2:05 2/5
1922MorvichAlbert Johnson2:04 3/5
1921Behave YourselfCharles Thompson2:04 1/5
1920Paul JonesTed Rice02:09
1919Sir Barton *John Loftus2:09 4/5
1918ExterminatorWilliam Knapp2:10 4/5
1917Omar KhayyamCharles Borel2:04 3/5
1916George SmithJohn Loftus02:04
1915RegretJoe Notter2:05 2/5
1914Old RosebudJohn McCabe2:03 2/5
1913DonerailRoscoe Goose2:04 4/5
1912WorthCarroll Hugh Shilling2:09 2/5
1911MeridianGeorge Archibald02:05
1910DonauRobert Herbert2:06 2/5
1909WintergreenVincent Powers2:08 1/5
1908Stone StreetArthur Pickens2:15 1/5
1907Pink StarAndy Minder2:12 3/5
1906Sir HuonRoscoe Troxler2:08 4/5
1905AgileJack Martin2:10 3/4
1904ElwoodFrank Prior2:08 1/2
1903Judge HimesHarold Booker02:09
1902Alan-a-DaleJimmy Winkfield2:08 3/4
1901His EminenceJimmy Winkfield2:07 3/4
1900Lieut. GibsonJimmy Boland2:06 1/2
1899ManuelFred Taral02:12
1898PlauditWillie Simms02:09
1897Typhoon IIButtons Garner2:12 1/2
1896Ben BrushWillie Simms2:07 3/4
1895HalmaSoup Perkins2:37 1/2
1894ChantFrank Goodale02:41
1893LookoutEddie Kunze2:39 1/4
1892AzraAlonzo Clayton2:41 1/2
1891KingmanIsaac Murphy2:52 1/4
1890RileyIsaac Murphy02:45
1889SpokaneThomas Kiley2:34 1/2
1888Macbeth IIGeorge Covington2:38 1/4
1887MontroseIsaac Lewis2:39 1/4
1886Ben AliPaul Duffy2:36 1/2
1885Joe CottonErkine Henderson2:37 1/4
1884BuchananIsaac Murphy2:40 1/4
1883LeonatusWilliam Donohue02:43
1882ApolloBabe Hurd2:40 1/4
1881HindooJames McLaughlin02:40
1880FonsoGeorge Garret Lewis2:37 1/2
1879Lord MurphyCharlie Shauer02:37
1878Day StarJimmy Carter2:37 1/4
1877Baden-BadenWilliam Walker02:38
1876VagrantBobby Swim2:38 1/4
1875AristidesOliver Lewis2:37 3/4

* Denotes Triple Crown winners.

Kentucky Derby FAQ

The 2025 Kentucky Derby will take place at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 3.

In recent history, it has been 20 horses. A second auxiliary gate is needed to fit all the horses.

Qualifying races late in the fall and spring award points to winners and runners-up of the “prep” races. The most significant preps occur in March and April.

The total purse for the 2024 Kentucky Derby was $5 million, the largest ever. The winner receives $3.1 million.

The Derby was once the most lucrative race on the circuit, but its total purse has been eclipsed by other events such as the Breeder’s Cup Classic, the Saudi Cup, and the Dubai Cup. But the Kentucky Derby still has history, consistency, glamour, and significant betting totals.

1 1/4 miles. It is not the shortest race in the Triple Crown, however. The Preakness Stakes is a hair shorter in distance at 1 3/16 miles.

The 13 who eventually won the Triple Crown. That group includes Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox  (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat  (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018). Meanwhile, Maximum Security ranks as one of the most famous (or infamous) as well due to his disqualification in the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

The introduction of the superfecta (selecting the top four finishers in a horse race) ushered in an era of staggering payouts when longshots hit the top spots.

The best ever was 2005, when Giacomo prevailed at 50-1. Closing argument finished second, at 71-1. Afleet Alex was third at 9-2 and Don’t Get Mad completed the superfecta at 29-1.

How could anyone get mad at this ticket? It paid an unbelievable $864,000 for the $2 superfecta, still the largest Derby payout ever.

Even the trifecta, the top three finishers, paid more than $133,000. The exacta returned $9,814.

How did it happen? Front-end speed horses tired down the stretch. Two horses mired near the back of the pack overtook them, finishing first and second. They were the two longest shots on the board. One lukewarm favorite was third and another longshot rallied to complete the eye-popping superfecta.

The biggest payout from one horse came in 1913. Donerail prevailed at 91-1 and paid $184.90. But there was no superfecta then. Imagine hitting a superfecta with him on top.

Privacy Policy