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Kentucky Derby History 

Since being officially commissioned in 1950, the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing has drawn the most competitive three-year-old Thoroughbreds from around the world. It is the most prestigious accomplishment in North American horse racing, and winning it guarantees the horse and trainer a place in history. Up to this point, only 13 horses have accomplished the feat by winning Kentucky Derby odds, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes—all within a span of five weeks. 

Every year, the possibility of a Triple Crown winner begins in Louisville with the Kentucky Derby. Kentucky Derby history dates back to 1875, when after being inspired by horse races in Europe, Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. raised the funds necessary to build a quality racecourse just outside of Louisville called Churchill Downs. The first Kentucky Derby held 15 three-year-old horses on May 7, 1875. Now, 145 years later, we’ll see up to 20 three-year-old horses line up behind the gates on the same dirt track at Churchill Downs. 


Kentucky Derby Contenders

With Omaha Beach being a scratch due to an entrapped epiglottis, this year’s crop of three-year-olds has Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s influence all over it. Bob Baffert is a big deal in Thoroughbred racing, and among his accomplishments are the last two Triple Crown winners, Justify and American Pharoah. This year, Bob Baffert-trained colts hold the top four spots on the 2019 Kentucky Derby odds board in the futures market. 

The odds board doesn’t always align with the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard, which is much more systematic than Kentucky Derby betting. Prep races award the top four finishers with a certain number of points that depend on the caliber of the race; the top-caliber grade 1 events award 100-40-20-10, while the softest races award 10-4-2-1. 

With the conclusion of the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, this season’s Kentucky Derby prep races are finished, meaning we can now begin surmising this year’s Kentucky Derby contenders. The top horse on the leaderboard is Tacitus, who’s tied at No. 5 on the odds board with +1200 odds for Kentucky Derby glory. A William Mott-trained colt, Tacitus earned his 150 points by winning the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes and the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby. He’s a son of Tapit, and like Tapit, he has reached speeds of up to 106 (Equibase Speed Figure) in his best prep races. Tacitus’ stalking style will suit the Kentucky Derby well.

From the Leaderboard to the odds board, the top contender on the Kentucky Derby lines is Roadster, who’s fifth on the Leaderboard with 100 points. Roadster entered the scene last September when he finished third at the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. Since then, he increased his speed and won his following two races, an Allowance Optional and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, where he pushed to the front of the pack right before the finish line, beating Morning Line favourite Game Winner by a half-length.  

Game Winner’s odds on the Kentucky Derby went from +700 to +350, he's now a co-favourite with Roadster at +350 followed by Improbable at +500. His performance at the Santa Anita Derby was his fifth graded event since he broke his maiden on first try last August. A son of Candy Ride, Game Winner arguably had the strongest start to his career out of this three-year-old cohort. He broke his maiden by 5 ¾ lengths before diving into top caliber races with the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, American Pharoah Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile—winning all three. In 2019, Game Winner secured two second-place finishes.



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The winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby, Maximum Security, is a wildcard that could pay off. He hasn’t been fully battle-tested, with three of his four outings being Optional Claiming races and a maiden race—all of which he won. These races were a maximum of 7 furlongs (0.87 miles), which is much shorter than the 1 ¼ miles of the Kentucky Derby. All four of his races were at Gulfstream Park, so his ability to transfer his talent to another venue remains to be seen. However, the same skepticism was cast on Justify last year, as he entered the Kentucky Derby undefeated with just three races: one maiden, one Allowance and one grade 1 race before he blew away the competition and won the Triple Crown.

Although these horses have the top Kentucky Derby betting odds, there are plenty more options to choose from at Bodog Racebook. Browse through the 20 contenders, which range from +350 to +5000 odds, when you’re ready to bet on Kentucky Derby winners. May the best horse win.