Trends To Keep in Mind When Betting on the Kentucky Derby

Regarding horse race events, the Kentucky Derby is the biggest and longest-running horse racing event out there.

The derby is considered a grade 1 stakes event and hosts numerous individuals participating in Kentucky derby betting.

Due to the sheer number of people who watch it just for entertainment or are seasoned veterans looking to win big by utilizing the Kentucky Derby odds, out of all the horse race events that happen throughout the year,  the Kentucky Derby is the one that is most watched.

This race primarily involved three-year-old Thoroughbreds and is also one of the very few American Triple Crown races considered the most prestigious trophy any racer can ever earn.

However, before betting on the horses in this historical race, it is essential to understand the historical trends you can utilize to your advantage when betting on Kentucky Derby to win big.

Let us discuss this further, highlighting the history behind the derby and listing some trends you need to consider before placing the bets.

History of the Kentucky Derby

As discussed previously, the Kentucky Derby is a horse racing event that has a rich history, filled with glorious moments and horses taking home the well-known Triple Crown, etching their name into the history of the Kentucky Derby, an event whose origin can be traced way back to the early 1800s.

The first Kentucky Derby was run on May 17, 1875, and was heavily inspired by the Epsom Derby, which was known to be one of the most famous horse racing events during that time.

When Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. traveled to Europe in 1872, he noticed the fame and fortune surrounding the horse racing culture, which was flourishing there. He wanted to introduce this idea to the United States, hoping for the same response.

Due to this, he founded the Kentucky Derby, and the first-ever race was held at the Louisville Jockey Club, currently known as the Churchill Downs, and was met with a roaring response, with around 10,000 people attending the race.

Aristides was the first-ever derby race winner, with its jockey Oliver Lewis bagging the first-ever Kentucky Derby victory.

After the inaugural race, which marked the beginning of the Kentucky Derby, many other historical moments followed. One of the more notable ones was the derby victory secured in 1973 by the Secretariat and the American Pharaohs’ victory in 2015.

This victory is beloved by many horse racing veterans and fans alike because they were not only victorious in the most well-known race in the world of horse racing but also the feats they accomplished in the process.

It was the Secretariat who recorded a record for the fastest time to finish the race, and the American Pharaoh was the one who took home the Triple Crown in a historical win, cementing his name in history as being the first horse after 37 years to win the trophy.

Historical Trends in Kentucky Derby Betting

Tradition is a huge part of the culture surrounding horse racing, and the Kentucky Derby values them as well. However, this is also a great aid when betting on the Kentucky Derby and is not just for show.

This event has been here for decades, and with each horse race comes numerous bets which can be used as data to take into account to come up with certain trends which can help you when placing wagers.

Even though these historical trends will not allow you to have total control over the event and provide you with a guaranteed winner, it is beneficial to understand which horse has the most probability of winning, giving you an edge when betting.

Dominance of the Bay and Chestnut Horses

Before looking at this trend which has been concluded after considering many wins and other figures throughout the 140 races comprising the Kentucky Derby, it is essential to understand which colors are recognized by the Jockey Club.

This has been a concrete rule ever since the emergence of horse racing, and it states that only seven colors of thoroughbred are recognized by the club:

  • Bay
  • Chestnut
  • Brown
  • Roan/Gray
  • White
  • Palomino
  • Black

Considering the winners of all the 146 derbies that have taken place throughout the history of the Kentucky Derby, one of the conclusions drawn out regarding the victors is that an alarming 70% of them are either in Bay or Chestnut colors.

After dissecting this statistic to look at the victories in greater detail, the facts and figures state that around 55 of the winners throughout Kentucky Derby history have been in Bay color. At the same time, the other 48 wins have been secured by Chestnut horses.

The Dark Bay horses follow closely behind the Chestnut ones, with a total number of 17 wins. Considering this information, statistics have deduced that it will take around 31 years for the other horses to catch up to the win leaders.

Even though it’s not a guarantee, this is a great trend to consider before deciding which horse to place your bet on. This is because this information highlights that Bay and Chestnut’s horses have the most probability to win, which allows you to play the Kentucky Derby odds ever so slightly in your favor.

The Favorite Is Not Always the Winner

When going to the derby and deciding on what horse to place a bet on, you will notice that there is at least one crowd favorite that the majority is rooting for, with some of them claiming that betting on the crowd favorite is a surefire formula to profit from the bet as there is little to no likelihood of that horse losing.

However, if the fan favorite always won, everyone would be betting on it and winning, defeating the purpose and thrill of placing wagers.

A horse might be a favorite amongst the bettors because they might have an incredibly high probability of winning, and it is always a smart choice to bet on a horse with the most chances of winning.

However, in the end, this is just probability, meaning that the favorite is not always set to win the race, and there is great evidence throughout horse racing history which can back up this claim as well.

Rather than the origin, even if we take a look back at the Kentucky Derby victory trends taking 1980 as a starting point, you will notice that the horse, which was dubbed as the favorite during that time, has only seven victories in the Kentucky Derby since 1980, ending up with a win percentage of only 19%.

However, the American Pharaoh, California Chrome, and Nyquist were favorites in the most recent Kentucky derby races, and each won a derby match.

On the other hand, if you look some time back, you will notice that from 1980-1999, no favorite took home the first position in the Kentucky Derby.

This information on the Kentucky Derby winnings throughout the years shows that even though recent projections show that the favorites dominate this event, that will not always be the case. Many people who have blindly placed all of their money on the favorite have been left with nothing in the end, so it is essential to properly research the horses and their jockeys before getting into Kentucky Derby betting.

However, betting on the favorite can still prove profitable due to the Kentucky Derby odds being in favor of the favorite.

Taking Into Account the Exceptions

One of the most notable and important trends you need to consider before placing a wager is that horse racing is known to be unpredictable, with the possibility of a completely unknown horse taking the win and other similar upsets which can occur.

Playing the Kentucky Derby odds is an effective way to understand which horse has the highest chance of winning, allowing you to be efficient with your wagers and only bet on horses with the most favorable odds. Still, there are rare events that go against all odds and reasoning.

As discussed earlier, the favorites have been known as having the highest probability of winning, with a likelihood of winning most of the time. If the favorite does not clench the win, the horse with the next best odds will surely be victorious.

However, in the end, all of this data is based on probabilities and the likelihood of winning, and there have been exceptional events where the horse, which no one expects, takes the lead out of nowhere and wins against all odds.

Even though such instances are incredibly rare and rarely occur, there are still times when miracles like these have happened throughout the rich history of the Kentucky Derby.

A prime example of a horse going against all odds is the Animal Kingdom, which cemented its name in horse racing history as one of the only horses since 1918 to have won the Kentucky Derby with only four total victories.

Not only that, but this win completely shocked the entire stands and every horse racing fan, as the horse started at the 16th post and had 21-1 Kentucky Derby odds.

However, this does not compare to the greatest upset during the 2009 Kentucky Derby race. During that event, there was a horse known as Mine That Bird, which no one had bet on, and was one of the horses which no one expected to even be mentioned during the race, with 50-1 odds.

Mine That Bird performed just as the people expected it would as the race began, trailing behind during most of the race, but what happened at the final stretch shocked everyone to their core.

During the final half of the race, Mine That Bird made an incredibly swift run from a long distance back, eventually securing the first position and then the win.

Most Kentucky Derby Winners Have Won a Prep Race

Other than Bay and Chestnut’s horses dominating the Kentucky Derby with a high combined win rate, another interesting piece of information to keep in mind is that taking into consideration the winners since 1980, it has been concluded that around 29 of the 40 winners have won prep races which happen before the derby.

Before the actual event, a couple of major prep races happen leading up to the main event, and being the first horse to reach the finishing line during those prep matches can alter the Kentucky Derby odds in that horse’s favor.

Furthermore, another study on the historical Kentucky derby trends showed that since 1980, 22 of the 31 winning jockeys raced in the derby with the same horse they commanded during the final prep race leading to the main event, and this is an important factor to consider before betting on Kentucky derby.

This is because the jockeys matter as much as the horse they ride on. This is because certain jockeys have gained enough experience to develop particular techniques, such as Calvin Borel being the reason for one of the most unexpected wins in the event’s history.


The Kentucky Derby is considered the biggest horse racing event held annually, with many bettors looking forward to winning big during this event. Would you like to learn more? In that case, visit us now and profit from horse racing today!