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One of the biggest liabilities for horseplayers is the reduction of big payout longshots. Simply put, if a lot of people bet on Kentucky Derby or any race longshot at the horse track, it ceases to be a longshot. At the Kentucky Derby horse track, your payout on a longshot depends on what happens at the betting window up until race time. If your longshot gets additional support from horse bettors you'll be paid at lower odds than you bet should he win.
If you're the only one that has any enthusiasm for a horse, and he goes on to receive little betting interest you could be paid at a higher price than you originally bet.
You'll often see sportsbooks offer futures and moneyline wagers on the big horse racing events like the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup. In this instance, they'll book the race the same way they would any other sporting event. This circumstance not withstanding, when you bet on Kentucky Derby horse race you'll be doing so under the parimutuel system. Simply put, the 'takeout' is the 'house advantage' that a winning horseplayer has to overcome if he is to be profitable in the long term.
Most people are familiar with the concept of 'vig' or 'vigorish' in sports betting. A player in the sports book has to lay 11 to 10 for most straight bets. In horse racing, you've got to win enough to overcome the takeout to make money in the long term. It's a significant challenge, but it is possible. In fact, many advanced betting concepts are designed to minimize the impact of the takeout. As a beginning player, you should just focus on making good Kentucky Derby bets, but the takeout percentage is still important to keep in mind.
It's why it's seldom a good idea to try to back the favorite race after race. You'll do better hitting fewer winners at higher prices. The tote board at the racetrack might not seem like much in the digital era but its development in the early part of the 20th century revolutionized horse racing. Additionally, the tote board is credited for at least some of the sport's public popularity and relative acceptance by government and community leaders. Before the advent of the tote board, the calculations of winning horse bets required manual computation and that could be a time-consuming process.
George Julius, an Australian engineer, developed the first all mechanical tote board in the early s with the first unit installed at Ellerslie Racecourse in New Zealand in It would be a couple of decades before the first tote boards came to the United States, first at Hialeah Park, Florida and Arlington Park outside of Chicago By the late 's, the mechanical tote boards started to be replaced by electronic tote boards. Today, virtually all tote boards have been replaced by computers running specialized wagering software displayed on LED screens.
Despite the seismic changes in technology during the past few decades the term 'tote board' remains in common usage. When tote boards first started to become popular it allowed the advocates of horse racing to make a new argument to counter concerns of corruption by civic and religious leaders.
The tote board put the 'business' of bookmaking on full display for the public to see. The prevailing argument became that horse racing and parimutuel wagering were less 'evil' than traditional bookmaking. This position may be of dubious logic to say the least, but it was surprisingly effective in helping horse racing gain traction across North America during the 20th century. The tote board is still the primary data center for the horse racing enthusiast. It doesn't matter whether it's on your computer screen or a big LED display at the racetrack—it provides real-time, running data on how the public is betting and how it's impacting the odds.
You'll find potential payout odds; will pays for open exotic wagers and other critical information. To be sure, there are plenty of other sources of horse racing and handicapping data today, but the tote board remains the focal point of the horse racing experience. It also allows more experienced players to 'time' their wagers, often betting at the last minute to obtain more favorable odds. Get used to watching the tote board and learn how to 'read' it to understand betting patterns—it doesn't take long until you'll be able to find betting opportunities this way.
Before we examine the various types of Kentucky Derby bets, we're going to discuss the mechanics of how to place a bet on Kentucky Derby. The information you need is essentially the same whether you're playing at the track, in a casino racebook or online.
When you're dealing with an actual person e. If you're betting online or with a self-serve terminal at the track, you'll have to navigate menus to make your bet. Regardless of how you bet, this is the essential information:. The information listed above is in the correct order for calling a bet at the track. It would sound like this:. This format quickly becomes second nature but until it does don't make the 'rookie mistake' of using the horse name instead of the number.
It helps to write down your wager before you head to the window. The ticket writer will usually call the bet back to you as he's printing your tickets to verify that he heard it correctly. Once you get your tickets, quickly look at them to make sure everything is right. If you catch a mistake at the window, it can be corrected. Obviously once you've left the betting station the bet is valid and can't be changed Count your change at the window for the same reason. And tip your ticket writer, especially if you hit a big score.
Trust me, it'll pay dividends down the road. Another good habit to develop is checking your losing tickets after the race to make sure they're actually 'losers'. This won't be an issue if you're betting online at Kentucky Derby since they'll end up credited to your account but you'd be surprised how often you'll mistakenly think a winning ticket is actually a loss and vice versa. You'll also encounter situations where a horse that finish ahead of the one you bet is disqualified after a steward's inquiry.
There's no worse feeling than for a loser to become a winner and your tickets are already in the trash can. If you bet online on Derby or with any other type of automated interface , you'll need the same information, but you'll have to do the work yourself.
The organization of online horse betting sites is usually in the same order as above—track name first, then race number. Typically, you'll be presented with a variety of betting options for each race on one screen.
This interface is where you'll enter the dollar amount, the type of bet and the horse number. You'll be shown a 'confirmation screen' before your bet is made official—double check the information and then submit your wager. If you vary your bet amounts it is especially important to verify the dollar amount wagered—betting software will often 'default' to your most frequently bet dollar amount. Note that the information above is for any straight bet win, place or show.
Calling out and betting exotics is somewhat different and we'll discuss that when we cover this type of wager. Kentucky Derby bets are usually divided into two categories—straight bets and exotic bets. Straight bets are the best place to start your betting career but you'll quickly graduate into exotic bets. As the name implies, straight bets involve wagers on a single horse in a single race to either win or finish near the front of the field. Exotic bets involve either multiple horses in a single race or one or more horses in multiple races.
The only other wager was the 'daily double' in which bettors would pick the winners of the first two races on the card. A 'win' bet is as simple as it gets in Kentucky Derby. You're placing a bet at a horse to win at a given set of odds. If the horse you bet on wins, you cash your ticket. If he doesn't, you don't.
That's all there is to it. As far as placing a win bet goes, the example we used above is appropriate here:. In the 'real world' this would be minus 'takeout' and 'breakage' but for the purpose of explaining these bets we'll pretend that these assessments don't exist. In the 'real world' the payout odds would be figured by taking the total amount wagered on all horses 'to win' known as the 'win pool' and subtracting the takeout.
That amount is then divided by the amount wagered on each horse to determine actual payouts. It's important to remember that the Kentucky Derby betting odds do not represent the chances of a specific interest winning a race. Instead, the odds are indicative of a horse's payout ratio for a specific bet which is a function of the financial support they're receiving from the betting marketplace.
The fundamental challenge of handicapping is to find situations where a horse's chance of winning is greater than the betting odds represent. This is called an 'overlay' and is the goal of every successful handicapper. The opposite of an 'overlay' is an 'underlay'--an underlay occurs when the betting odds represent that a horse has a greater chance of winning than he actually does. How do you figure out the horse's chance of winning?
That's the hard part. These concepts apply to sports betting moneylines and point spreads as well. Another point worth mentioning here—North American tracks quote odds as fractions but tracks in the rest of the world usually quote them as decimals.
The good news is that if you're betting international races online you'll be offered the option of how you want odds displayed. Just select 'fractional' odds and you won't have to worry about decimals.
In some cases, the betting odds on a favorite horse at Kentucky Derby will be less than even money. The terminology for this is 'odds on favorite'. So our profit on this bet is. When you factor in the takeout and breakage you're either making a minuscule profit of a few cents or even losing money. We'll group these two bets together since they're very similar and the underlying math is the same for both.
A Kentucky Derby 'place' bet is a bet that a horse will finish either first or second. A 'show' bet is a bet that a horse will finish first, second or third. At the track, you'd call these bets as follows:. American Pharoah won the race and cashed all three straight bet types win, place and show. Firing Line finished second and cashed place and show bets. In most cases, the price 'to show' will be less than the price 'to win'.
The price to 'place' will be less than both other bets. There are exceptions and the Kentucky Derby was one of them. American Pharoah went off as a favorite while Firing Line was The disparity between these odds is why Firing Line paid more 'to show' than American Pharoah did 'to win'.
Keep in mind that these payouts are figured based on the amount of money in the 'pool' for each bet minus the track takeout.
Takeout at Churchill Downs is First, the good news—you'll likely never have to calculate place and show payouts manually. The race track, race book or online betting site will do the math for you. Even when you're handicapping you won't have to figure it out yourself. There's a wide variety of applications for computers, tablets, phones, etc.
That being said, it's still important to understand the math behind the payouts. Note that the formula below won't produce an exact payout but it does calculate a good estimate of your return on a successful 'place' bet:. Start by taking the total amount of money bet to place the 'place pool'. Then subtract the takeout eg: Then subtract the amount of money wagered on your horse plus the highest amount of place money bet on another horse.
This will give you the place pool profit:. You'll then divide the place pool profit by two since there are two horses that are cashing 'place' bets. Figuring a 'show' payout is done exactly the same way with two minor adjustments. In the second step, you'll subtract the amount of money wagered on your horse and the two horses with the highest amount of 'show' money bets to determine the 'show pool profit'. In the third step, you'll divide the 'show' pool profit by three for the three horses cashing a ticket.
There are a number of ways to use these calculations for handicapping. In fact, the Kentucky Derby is a perfect example of one—you'd might have determined that betting American Pharoah to 'place' at 5. As noted at the outset of this section you're well advised to use the many technological resources to figure out potential payouts but it's crucial to understand what it all means. At the outset of our discussion on horse race betting we observed that 'at it's essence the sport has changed little since the 19th century'.
Exotic bets are the exception to that rule and are a relatively modern addition to the horse racing menu. A horse player in the 's would have had only one choice for an exotic wager—the daily double, where he would try and select the winner of the first two races on the card.
This was considered a 'novelty bet' and the province of amateurs and recreational players. That has changed dramatically to the point that today exotic wagers comprise around 70 to 75 percent of the horse racing handle. One reason for the explosion in exotic wager options is competition. Throughout most of the 20th century, there were few gambling options to challenge the dominance of horse racing. Florida had a few jai alai frontons, Nevada had casino gambling and there were plenty of illegal bookmakers throughout the country.
But as far as legal betting options were concerned, horse racing was just about the only game in town. When the legal gambling market started to expand players not only had options for where to spend their betting dollars but a variety of new wagering opportunities that offered big payouts for small investments.
They flocked to sports betting parlay cards, networked progressive slot jackpots like Megabucks and big dollar, multi-state lotteries such as Powerball. These types of games were popular with both players and 'the house'--they typically offered game operators a higher 'hold' percentage overall even with the payout of a huge jackpot. The popularity and high hold percentage of big jackpot bets was not lost on horse racing who had a perfect product for this type of wagering.
There was also plenty of precedent as what would become known as 'exotic wagers' had long been popular internationally. As the years progressed, the sport would continue to add new bet types with longer odds and bigger payouts to keep up with the massive expansion of other forms of gambling in the North American market.
At this point, you're probably thinking that exotic Kentucky Derby bets sound a lot like sports betting parlays. This is a very good comparison—in both cases, a player must successfully pick more than one outcome to cash a ticket. The more correct outcomes offered in a specific bet means longer odds but a larger payout for the successful handicapper. One substantial difference between Derby exotic bets and sports parlays: That's not the case in horse racing where many high level handicappers specialize in trying to find value in exotic bets.
A vertical bet eg: A horizontal bet requires the player to pick the winner of a set number of races. The daily double is a horizontal bet but bets involving as many as six or seven races are common today. Occasionally, you'll come across one of the new forms of exotic wagering that are essentially a hybrid of the two and require a player to select multiple horses in multiple races.
One more thing worth mentioning—the terms we'll use to discuss the bet types below are the ones most commonly used in the United States. Many of these bets are known by other names in various parts of the world. For example, in certain parts of Canada what is known as an 'exacta' to American bettors is known as an 'exactor'. If you're betting races at an international track it's a good idea to learn the local betting lexicon as there might be differences from what you're used to.
The exacta is the most popular multi-horse vertical wager and requires the bettor to pick the first and second place finisher of a race in correct order. Here's how you'd call this bet specifying the horse numbers in the correct order of finish:. The expert strategy for exactas and other types of exotic bets is to make multiple wagers to 'cover' different results.
Using the example above, lets say you like horses 8, 3 and 6 but are unsure about their order of finish. One strategy in this situation is to bet every permutation of all three horses in the win and place spot.
Those hopes quickly disappeared. It was his fourth win in four starts. Justify entered the morning with odds. Good Magic rallied to finish in second while Audible took third place in what was one of the most competitive Kentucky Derby fields in years. Baffert admitted he was nervous all day with the sloppy conditions on the track but is thrilled to earn his fifth Kentucky Derby win.
I rank him up there with my top ones. Justify has won the th KentuckyDerby! Only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown with the last coming in American Pharoah. Justify and Mendelssohn are each contending with a deep field and some inauspicious history heading into the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Justify and Mendelssohn remain the top betting favorites on the odds to win the Kentucky Derby at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. When Always Dreaming won in , he was the fifth favorite in a row to capture The Run for the Roses. Bettors will have to decide whether the law of averages is due to kick in or if the streak holds. Both of the top two horses have the rule of precedents working against them. Justify, who will run from the No.