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Betting the Kentucky Derby: The Oaks/Derby Double

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Horse racing tends to get the spotlight every year for it’s version of the Super Bowl with the running of the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is for the best three year-old horses in the world but sometimes the best three year-olds actually run on Friday instead of Saturday in the Kentucky Oaks. The Kentucky Oaks is the feature race on Friday at Churchill Downs, designated for three year-old fillies.

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The 145th addition of the Kentucky Oaks will feature a full field of 14 fillies with standout #4 Bellafina installed as the 2-1 Morning Line favorite. Horse racing is centered around wagering and the big pari-mutuel pools all over the place this weekend makes it a great event to make some wagers. One pool in particular that has struck my attention as a MUST PLAY is the Oaks/Derby double. Below is a look at why you must get down in the Oaks/Derby double pool.

WHAT IS A DOUBLE?

A double is when you bet the outcome of two designated races. In horse racing, generally a double is in consecutive races on a certain race card. However, on big weekends, race tracks will often offer special double where they involve feature races on multiple days. On Friday and Saturday, Churchill Downs offers the Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby double. The Oaks and Derby double is a great way to get involved in both races and the numbers show that it is more profitable than a parlay (taking your Oaks winnings and betting it all on the Derby winner).

KENTUCKY DERBY/OAKS WINNERS SINCE 2009

YEAR KENTUCKY OAKS WINNER 

$2 PAYOUT

KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER 

$2 PAYOUT

DOUBLE

$2 PAYOUT

$2 PARLAY +/-
2018 MONOMOY GIRL

$7.20

JUSTIFY*

$7.80

$33.20 $28.08 +$5.12
2017 ABEL TASMAN

$20.40

ALWAYS DREAMING*

$11.40

$146.00 $116.28 +$29.72
2016 CATHRYN SOPHIA

$11.40

NYQUIST*

$6.60

$58.80 $37.62 +$21.18
2015 LOVELY MARIA

$14.60

AMERICAN PHAROAH*

$7.80

$54.60 $56.94 -$2.34
2014 UNTAPABLE*

$4.00

CALIFORNIA CHROME*

$7.00

$11.40 $14.00 -$2.60
2013 PRINCESS OF SYLMAR

$38.80

ORB*

$12.80

$621.40 $248.32 +$373.08
2012 BELIEVE YOU CAN

$29.60

I’LL HAVE ANOTHER

$32.60

$731.20 $482.48 +$248.72
2011 PLUM PRETTY

$14.60

ANIMAL KINGDOM

$43.80

$345.60 $319.74

 

+$25.86
2010 BLIND LUCK

$4.60*

SUPER SAVER

$18.00

$56.60 $41.40

 

+$15.20
2009 RACHEL ALEXANDRA*

$2.60

MINE THAT BIRD

$103.20

$237.40 $134.16

 

+$103.24

*DENOTES BETTING FAVORITES

As you can see, since 2009 only two years have given you less value if you bet the two horse parlay instead of playing a Oaks/Derby Double ticket. And the negative return was only a small number (-$2.34 and -$2.60). While conversely, the other eight years that the return was positive you have some very large discrepancies (the highest being in 2013 when you made $373.08 more by playing the double).

CONSTRUCTING YOUR TICKET

The Oaks/Derby Double is a $1 minimum wager (some years they have it as a $2 minimum). A simple ticket, or straight double, of picking one horse in the Kentucky Oaks and one horse in the Kentucky Derby will cost you $1. However, as I explain in my Guide to Betting on Horse Racing, you can add extra combinations (horses) to your tickets but you will make your ticket more expensive in the process.

Example: You want to include two horses in the Kentucky Oaks (#4 Bellafina, #10 Champagne Anyone) and the whole field in the derby (20 horses) you would have 40 combinations of wagers. So your ticket would be $40.

How to calculate: $1 (cost of a minimum wager) x 2 (horses used in the oaks) x 20 (horses used in the derby) = $40.

The ticket above is an example of trying to get a live ticket to the derby. This ticket is constructed with the idea that you have a strong opinion in the Kentucky Oaks and want to be guaranteed to cash a ticket if you are right.

One exciting part of betting multi-race exotics, such as the Oaks/Derby double is you can find out your “will pays” when you are alive to the last bet.

If you make it past the Kentucky Oaks leg of the ticket it can allow you to sit back and enjoy the derby with a ticket already in hand. Additionally, it can help you strategically bet the race based on what you can already win. No matter how you structure your ticket though this is a pool that you must tackle for value.

Good luck this weekend to everyone jumping into the Oaks/Derby double pool this weekend!

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