I have a lot of people ask me how they should bet their bankroll in the Derby. Do I bet it all on a winner? Do I play a straight or boxed exacta? What about Superfectas and Oaks-Derby Doubles? Honestly it is all up to you. At the end of the day, it begins with what you are willing to comfortably wager and what the expectations are. Here we are not going to talk about the intricacies of the racing form, the speed figures or anything of that nature. Below is the betting strategy that should be employed based on varying levels of economic investment.
Take the best shot with what you believe but below I will outline how I would spend varying levels of bankroll on the “greatest two minutes in sports.” Each strategy comes with its own inherent risk-reward level. Judge them on their own merit and good luck when you step to the window or computer for the Kentucky Derby.
If you can only summon up $10 to bet and you scrounged to get that. DON’T BET. Keep your money and pay the water bill it is more important. If you are heart set on spending that $10 then either play $2 to win on five horses, $5 Win and Place on one horse, or $5 win on two horses. Just try and cash a ticket with your $10.
There are a couple of options here.
Option 1 is to spread the $20 in $5 increments on four horse to win. You won’t get rich but you have a few shots now.
Option 2 is to play a four horse $1 exacta box ($12) and $4 to win on two horses. Chance is here for a better payoff
This is where it can get fun.
Option 1 is to key a horse to win in a trifecta ($20). (Example: 1 w/2,3,4,5,6) I would then play a five horse $1 exacta box ($20) and put $5 to Win and Place on the horse I keyed in the trifecta ($10). Chance at a nice payoff.
Option 2 is more conservative in nature. You can still play the five horse $1 exacta box ($20) but then choose your favorite and play $10 across the board for a Win-Place-Show ($30). There will not be as huge a payout but a safer overall bet.
Now here is where you can let the good times roll a bit.
Option 1 is the same trifecta theory as the $50 bankroll but you wheel the bet this time ($60) (Example: 1 w/2,3,4,5 and 2,3,4,5 w/1 w/2,3,4,5 and 2,3,4,5 w/2,3,4,5 and 1) You can then play a four horse $2 exacta box ($24-but I would bet the $1 variant twice for tax purposes) Finally I would consider a $2 Oaks-Derby double with two horses in the Oaks and four in the Derby.
Option 2 is a bit more aggressive but requires you to really believe in your choice. Key the trifecta as I laid out before but throw in another horse for second and third ($30) (Example: 1 w/2,3,4,5,6,7). Play a partial wheel the same way. ($30) (Example: 2,3,4,5,6,7 w/1 w/2,3,4,5,6,7). With the remaining funds play a five horse $2 exacta box ($40- play the $1 variant twice for tax purposes).
There are clearly an unfathomable number of ways to approach betting the Kentucky Derby. Many of which are reasonable options. Feel free to follow some of the strategies laid out above or go out on your own. Now go forth, see into the future and cheer for your horse during the stretch run of Derby. Enjoy it all since it part of the rush that is “the greatest two minutes in sports.”