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Kentucky Derby Betting Trends, Facts & Figures




Horse racing: 2019 Belmont Stakes Preview and Picks

It’s Kentucky Derby week and the 145th Run for the Roses will take place on Saturday at historic Churchill Downs.  Horse racing takes the spotlight on Saturday evening for the iconic event so make sure to also check out my betting on horse racing guide, Ben Rasa’s Derby preview, and my Oaks/Derby double betting article.

Also, did you know it is legal on a national level (with a few states as the exceptions) to bet on horse racing online. Click here for the full analysis.  For those new to horse betting or those just looking to capitalize on the legality of betting on horses online, we have partnered with TVG and TwinSpires to offer our readers the following bonus deals:


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The Kentucky Derby is more than just mint juleps and big hats, so let’s explore some of the trends, facts, and history of the Kentucky Derby.

On May 17, 1875, in front of an estimated crowd of 10,000 people, a field of 15 three-year-old horses contested the first Kentucky Derby. The race was run at a 1 ½ mile distance but was later changed in the 1896 to the current distance of 1 ¼ miles.

History has shown that in the 145 runnings of the Kentucky Derby that a winner can come from almost any post position. In fact there are only 2 post positions in this year’s field that have not won the Kentucky Derby (#17 and #21). However, to be fair to #21 Bodeexpress most years do not have a #21 horse. Here are the list of winners by post position:






5 – 10 WINNERS





10 – 9 WINNERS

11 – 2 WINNERS

12 – 3 WINNERS

13 – 5 WINNERS

14 – 2 WINNERS

15 – 3 WINNERS

16 – 5 WINNERS

17 – 0 WINNERS

18 – 2 WINNERS

19 – 1 WINNER

20 – 1 WINNER

21 – 0 WINNERS


Obviously we wouldn’t have the Kentucky Derby without wagering statistics, as the key cog to horse racing is betting. Last year, new records were set from a wagering standpoint with $225.7 Million Dollars bet on the entire Kentucky Derby card and $149.9 Million Dollars bet on just the Kentucky Derby alone. With the rise in sports betting and gambling in general, I would not be surprised if both of those numbers are beaten on Saturday.

With all that money in the pools the Kentucky Derby can provide some great opportunity to make some big money. If you are interested in learning more on how to wager on the Kentucky Derby please check out my guide to betting on horses. The largest historical payouts for the derby are pretty impressive and led to life changing scores for some lucky folks:

High $2 Win (since pari-mutuel in 1908):$184.90, Donerail (1913)

High $2 Exacta (first offered 1985):$9,814.80, Giacomo-Closing Argument (2005)

High $2 Trifecta (first offered 1994):$133,134.80, Giacomo-Closing Argument-Afleet Alex (2005)

High $1 Superfecta (first offered 1996):$864,253.50, Giacomo-Closing Argument-Afleet Alex-Don’t Get Mad (2005)

For whoever hit that Superfecta in 2005 I am very jealous! Just think if you somehow came up with that combination you would have over ¾ of a million dollars in just under 2minutes.


In addition to the betting and the post position, there are some history that aligns to this year’s race.

Todd Pletcher (Trainer of #10 Cutting Humor 30-1 & #19 Spinoff 30-1) will add to his record of most Kentucky Derby Starters. Todd has had 52 starters in the Kentucky Derby from 2000-2018 but has 2 wins (2010 & 2017).

Another trainer, Bob Baffert, is trying to make some history of his own and tie Ben Jones with 6 Kentucky Derby wins as a trainer. Jones won the Kentucky Derby in 1938, 1941, 1944, 1948, 1949, & 1952. Bob Baffert has 3 legitimate contenders in this years field (#5 Improbable 6-1, #16 Game Winner 5-1, & #17 Roadster 6-1).

While 3 Kentucky Derby horses in the field may seem like a lot, the record for most starters in a single year is 5, or ¼ of the entire field! That feat has been done 4 Different times; Todd Pletcher (2013), Todd Pletcher (2007), Nick Zito (2005), & D. Wayne Lukas (1996).

The Kentucky Derby is a difficult race to win and especially for Steve Asmussen who has #18 Long Range Toddy (30-1) in this years event. Asmussen currently holds the record for most derby starters for a trainer without a win (he has had 19 runners ranging from 2001-2016).

From a jockey perspective most of the records  will stay intact. The records for most wins by a jockey, most mounts, and youngest jockey to win will stay intact. The only possibly change in history could be the oldest jockey to win the race. In 1986, a 54 year old Bill Shoemaker, rode Ferdinand home to victory. This year, 58 year old John Court, will etch his name in the record books as the oldest rider to ride the Kentucky derby. If he happens to pull the upset and ride #18 Long Range Toddy (30-1) first across the wire, he will become the oldest jockey to win.

Here are the rest of the aforementioned jockey records:

Most Wins, Jockey: 5, EDDIE ARCARO (1938, ’41, ’45, ’48, & ’52) & Bill Hartack (1957, ’60, ’62, ’64, ’69)

Most Mounts, Jockey: 26, BILL SHOEMAKER (1952-1988)

Most Mounts, Jockey w/o a win: 18 COREY NAKATANI (1991 – 2015)

Youngest Winning Jockey: 15, ALONZO CLAYTON (1892 – AZRA) & JAMES “SOUP” PERKINS (1895 – HALMA)

To put some of these numbers in perspective for this year’s field, the jockeys with the most wins is tied, Mike Smith #10 Cutting Humor (30-1) & Johnny Velazquez #13 Code of Honor (15-1), each have 2 Kentucky Derby wins, making them the leaders of this group of 19 jockeys. This year’s jockey list has 2 riders at the same young age of 24, Tyler Gaffalione (#1 War of Will 30-1) and Manny Franco (#19 Spinoff 30-1).

The Run for the Roses isn’t always an all-male field like it is this year. The Kentucky Derby has been won 3 times by a filly (Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980), & Winning Colors (1988). This year only colts & geldings will be in the race, so that stat will also remain the same after Saturday.


The last statistic we will explore is the betting favorite. For the LAST 6 YEARS the Kentucky Derby Favorite has won the race! For those searching for a good price recently have come up short. The betting favorite though obviously does not always win the race. In fact since pari-mutuel betting started in 1908 the favorite has only won 41 of the 111 times (36.9%). However if you are looking to take the favorite across the board (to finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd) that number grows to 72 out of 111 (64.9%) (41 wins, 21 seconds, 10 thirds).

With 19 horses slated to make their run at history in the 145thKentucky Derby there is plenty on the line and history that is waiting to be rewritten. Good luck to everyone wagering on the Kentucky Derby, and let’s hope someone can cash a ticket like the $1 Superfecta in 2005!

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