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For the last 87 years, the first Saturday in May means one thing only in Kentucky: it’s Derby Day. This annual event has the best three-year-old Thoroughbreds from around the world compete for a $2 million purse in a 1 ¼ mile race on Churchill Down’s dirt track. It’s the most-attended horse race in North America, with the 2012 edition bringing in a record-breaking 165,307 spectators. That year, a record was set for wagering too: $133.1 million was bet on the Kentucky Derby across all sources. If you’re looking to join the action and place some bets on your favourite horses, you’ve come to the right place. Improve your chance of success at the betting window, by taking into account the following 10 Kentucky Derby betting insights:


10. At 1 ¼ miles, the distance of the Kentucky Derby is longer than any race these three-year-olds have competed in thus far. As a result, horses with proven stamina have better odds to win the Kentucky Derby. Contenders that have competed in 1 ⅛ mile races have an edge.


9. Some trainers are better at developing Kentucky Derby winners than others. Out of the 20 contenders competing this year, the two trainers with the most Kentucky Derby wins are D. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert. Both have trained four Kentucky Derby winners. Baffert’s entries for the 2018 Kentucky Derby are Justify and Solimini, and Lukas’ entry is Bravazo.


8. Just like there are trainers who are adept at developing Kentucky Derby winners, there are jockeys who seem to know how to push the horse to the front of the pack at Churchill Downs. Out of the 20 Kentucky Derby jockeys, Victor Espinoza and Kent Desormeaux have the most Kentucky Derby wins at three a piece. Espinoza will be on top of Bolt d’Oro, and Desormeaux will on top of My Boy Jack.


7. Pedigree is analyzed to the nth degree when bookies determine the Kentucky Derby odds. Horses that are bred from champions command a hefty price at auctions and a lot of respect on the field. Mendelssohn, for example, certainly has the pedigree of a champion. His dam, Leslie’s Lady, produced the Hall of Fame mare Beholder, who won 11 grade 1 races. The valuable lineage is reflected in the cost of Mendelssohn, who cost $3 million as a yearling. His 2018 Kentucky Derby odds are 4/1.


6. Because the Kentucky Derby is run with 20 competitors, starting positions matter. Unless the jockey likes the extra space that comes from starting on the exterior, starting that far from the rail can create an additional obstacle right off the bat – not that American Pharoah cared in 2015. He started from post 18. Since 1930, the post position that has produced the most winners is post No. 5 – the same post Audible will break from on Saturday.


5. Horses typically begin their careers as two-year-olds and hit their prime in their sophomore year. All Kentucky Derby winners have started that early except for one: Apollo. After making his debut in April 1882, he won the Kentucky Derby on May 16. The feat is so rare that a term has been coined: The Curse of Apollo. This year, two entries will attempt to buck the curse. Justify and Magnum Moon started their racing careers in 2018.


4. Long shots rarely win the Kentucky Derby, but when they do, they make headlines. The last long shot to win the Kentucky Derby was Mine That Bird in 2009. After trailing the pack for the majority of the race, the Canadian colt bolted to the lead in the stretch, winning by 6 ¾ lengths. Lucky bettors cashed in on his 50/1 odds.


3. In the last five editions of the Kentucky Derby, the morning-line favourite has won. But for four years before that, the favourites failed to win. This year could go either way, as Justify has shifted between being the favourite and sharing the top spot with Mendelssohn.


2. Racing styles influence how well a horse will hold up at the Kentucky Derby. There are typically three kinds: Pacesetters (lead the way), stalkers (stay a few lengths behind the lead), and closers (reserve their energy for the stretch). Because of the distance of the Kentucky Derby, pacesetters risk tiring by the stretch. Their stamina is unknown for the 1 ¼ mile distance, but some exceptional horses do manage to win wire to wire. The 2002 Kentucky Derby was the last time we saw a wire to wire victory with Warm Emblem, who was backed by the Bob Baffert-Victor Espinoza trainer-jockey team.


1. Sloppy track conditions can throw horses who’ve performed only on fast tracks. For example, the 2016 Preakness Stakes favourite, Nyquist, had his eight-race undefeated streak ended by the sloppy track at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Exaggerator, who was experienced on sloppy tracks, pulled the upset. As we go to press, the forecast is predicting showers in Louisville on Saturday. Keep that in mind when placing your Kentucky Derby bets at Bodog Racebook and best of luck with

*Odds as of May 3, 2018