There are few sports as historic and exhilarating as horse racing. And the most historic and exhilarating of all the horse races is without a doubt the Kentucky Derby. Nicknamed “the most exciting two minutes in sports”, the Derby is an event like no other. Part of what makes this event so electrifying is the act of placing bets on horses.
With the race merely a week away, we at Superior Executive Services thought it might be helpful to shed some light on this subject. While having some past experience with placing bets on horse races will surely help you, it is not mandatory. With a little homework, you can walk up to the mutuel teller, slap down your bet, and walk away feeling confident!
Types of Bets
While there are many different types of wagers, these three are the most common and basic:
As the name indicates, this type of bet hinges upon the horse you choose winning the race. If the horse doesn’t win, you don’t win.
With a place wager, you are betting on the horse you pick to either finish first or second. If this happens, you win.
Similar to place bets, show bet wagers payoff if the horse you pick finishes first, second, or third.
With all three of these types of bets, the minimum wager is only $2.
Once you have a firm understanding of win, place, and show bets, it’s time to try an exacta bet. While this type of wager is more difficult to win than a win, place, or show bet, it has the potential to yield some serious payout. To place an exacta bet, you pick a minimum of two horses that you think will finish first and second. In order to win the bet, the two horses you choose must finish first and second in the exact order you chose.
If picking the exact order sounds too challenging and you would like to better your odds, you can “box” your wager, which removes the order requirement, meaning if the two horses you pick, finish first and second, you win regardless of which is first or second. Naturally, when you “box” your bet, you reduce your potential yield.
For both exacta and exacta box bets, the minimum wager is only $2.
Another wager option you’ll have at the Kentucky Derby is to place a trifecta bet. Similar to an exacta wager, it is more difficult to win than a win, place, show, and exacta wager, but it also comes with the potential for a higher payout. As the name indicates, this type of wager is made by selecting a minimum of three horses that you think will finish first, second, and third. In order to win a straight-up trifecta bet, your selected horses must finish in the exact order you pick.
Similar to an exacta bet, you do have the option to box your bet. When you box your wager, this removes the necessity to predict the exact order your chosen horses will finish. While this may increase your chances of winning, it does reduce your potential payout.
To place a trifecta bet, the minimum amount you have to wager is 50 cents. For a trifecta box bet, the minimum wager amount is $3.
How to Talk the Talk
Okay, so you’ve scouted the horses, studied up on the various types of bets, and now you’re ready to throw down some mulla. If you are a new bettor, you probably want to avoid the self-service machines and mobile applications, and instead head for the mutuel window. The mutuel window is where you find mutuel tellers—people who take and process bets. Finding the window is rather easy at the Derby—there will likely be a lengthy line, but don’t worry the tellers move fast—and if you can’t find it just ask around.
When You Get To The Window, Here Are The Primary Steps:
- Have your exact money in hand and ready to go
- State the track’s name
- State the race number that you are betting on
- State the amount of money you are betting
- State the type of bet that you will be placing
- State the horse’s program number
If you have followed these steps and done everything correctly your ticket might look something like this, “Churchill Downs, Race 12, $20 to win on #2.” After you have handed over the right amount of money and submitted your bet, you’ll receive your betting ticket. Stow this away in a lucky and safe spot and let the fun begin. Be sure to not lose your ticket. Without it, you won’t be able to return to the mutuel teller and collect your winnings now matter how much you beg and swear that you put $200 down the winning trifecta.
How to Pick a Winner
This is the easiest part of betting on the Kentucky Derby. It’s as simple as looking out at a field of brawny horses and saying, “Oh yeah! That’s the one!” We kid. This is, of course, the hardest part. Like with almost all betting, there are far too many variables to have a reliable way of picking a winner. That being said, there are some things you can pay attention to to help inform your decision. Below are some of these tips:
- Read the program—the daily program includes all the information you need to make an informed decision.
- Consider what experts are saying—notice we said, “consider.” While some of the advice you get may be helpful, some of it can be very misguided and have just as much merit as your inexperienced hunch.
- Watch the horses—it can be difficult to pick the fittest horse in a race, especially if you don’t know what to look for. To get you started, when assessing the horses, look for pricked ears, muscle definition, calm but energetic nerves, and the aura of a winner.
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