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Kentucky Derby Odds 2018
Saturday, May 2018; Churchill Downs, USA; click best odds in bold; Prices subject to change; Updated 2/12 4.40pm; Each-Way Place Terms: 1/5 odds 1,2,3.
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Kentucky Derby odds trends & betting history
The best perceived form lines do not always work out when betting on the Kentucky Derby odds. While favourites have a fair record, bigger priced horses have caused upsets.
In 2009, a 50-1 shot in the Kentucky Derby odds, Mine That Bird, appeared from absolutely nowhere in the closing stages of the race and romped home to win by seven lengths. As an apparently tailed off long shot, he was totally ignored by the race commentator until the closing seconds of the race.
Only after the race replay was the commentator aware that he was still six lengths last of the field four furlongs from home and his rapid progress was charted in hindsight. The Bennie L. Woolley Jr trained colt had won three times as a two year old, but had so far failed to fulfil his potential as a three year old, only managing second place in the relatively low key (£41,000 to the winner) Borderland Derby in February 2009.
The favourite in the 2009 Kentucky Derby betting, Friesan Fire, started at 15/8 and finished in 18th place with only one horse behind him. Friesan Fire had won his previous three starts over eight and nine furlongs with ease, most recently the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair grounds in March 2009.
The 2011 result was less of a shock, but still a nice payday for punters who went with Animal Kingdom. The Graham Motion-trained colt came fast and late to score easily at a shade under 21/1 under jockey John Velazquez. The rider was supposed to ride the big fancy Uncle Mo, but when he was scratched he got a very late call up for the unfancied Animal Kingdom.
Favourite backers have often profited from Kentucky Derby odds too. In 2008, Big Brown, the 12/5 favourite won convincingly by four lengths, followed by the ill fated 13-1 chance, Eight Belles. The filly suffered fractures in the race, collapsed in front of the crowds and a TV audience of millions and was destroyed.
The 2007 renewal saw another favourite come in, although many followers of Street Sense (49/10) were probably more than a little anxious for over a minute as his jockey, Calvin Borel, employed heavy hold up tactics. He kept Street Sense at the rear of the field of twenty until making his move, and rapid progress, on the inside from four furlongs out.
Borel used exactly the same tactics to great effect on the aforementioned 50-1 shot, Mine That Bird, two years later to cause the biggest upset in the Kentucky Derby betting for years.
Then Borel did it in the same way for a third time on Todd Pletcher’s Super Saver in 2010. Borel has proved himself a star of the big stage at Churchill Downs.
He seems to be one of relatively few jockeys in the USA who have the skill, guts and brains to spot excessive early pace in a race and then to take a pull and conserve a horse’s energy for the business end of proceedings. If the race pace is too fast early on, as it invariably is, Borel is definitely the jockey you want to be on, even if his horse isn’t one of the favourites.
Churchill Downs, the location of the Kentucky Derby, has been a career changing course for Borel. It was Seek Gold, a 91-1 long shot in the Stephen Foster Handicap at the course in June 2006 that helped to put Borel’s career on fast forward. A perfectly timed ride enabled him to get up in the final stride to win the USD750,000 prize by a nose. The timing was none too early for Borel’s curriculum vitae. His fortieth birthday was looming in the following November.
Kent Desormeaux is another veteran jockey with an impressive Kentucky Derby record. Like Borel, he achieved two victories in the race since the turn of the century, Big Brown in 2008 and Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. No other jockeys have managed repeat victories in the timescale.
Desormeaux also triumphed in the 1998 Kentucky Derby on Real Quiet, the second string of Bob Baffert, one of the most successful Kentucky Derby trainers in recent years. Real Quiet won at 84/10 while his Baffert trained stablemate, Indian Charlie, was sent off the 27/10 favourite in the Kentucky Derby odds and ridden by another multiple Derby winning jockey, Gary Stevens. Indian Charlie finished third.
The Kentucky Derby is one of the oldest races for thoroughbreds in the US. It is a Grade One stakes race for three year old colts, geldings and fillies and the first of the three races that comprise the highly prestigious US Triple Crown. The Preakness Stakes at Pimlico racecourse and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park complete the trio.
The very first Kentucky Derby was a fifteen runner affair which took place on May 17, 1875. It is held on the first Saturday in May, providing the climax of the two week festival.
Originally held over one and a half miles (exactly the same distance as the UK Derby at Epsom), since 1896, the Kentucky Derby has been run over the shorter distance of one mile two furlongs. Since 1937, it has been contested on the dirt at Churchill Downs, Louisville.
Over its long history the race has attracted some legends of the turf. The famous Northern Dancerachieved the then fastest time for the Kentucky Derby at its current distance in 1964. Nine years later the mighty Secretariat broke the brilliant Northern Dancer’s record in 1973. That winning time of one minute fifty nine and two fifths of a second has stood since.
Only two other horses have managed sub two minute race times in the Kentucky Derby and one of those was Sham, who finished a close second behind Secretariat. The third and only other sub two minute race time was achieved in 2001 by Monarchos. He scraped into the illustrious category by a mere three hundredths of a second.
A trainer’s reputation can be massively enhanced or dangerously damaged by the performance his horses produce in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher, known for his success with older horses, was particularly keen to win the race. His 24 runners prior to 2010 failed to triumph, although many of them clearly needed nothing short of a miracle to make the frame.
All that changed in 2010 when Pletcher’s Super Saver gave him his first victory and the mighty Churchill Downs’ specialist jockey Borel his third Kentucky Derby.
So how do you make money betting on the big race? Looking at the results since the turn of the century, the favourites come in with reassuring frequency so it probably pays to give them the attention they deserve. But there are upsets, especially when the early pace is too fast. It is no coincidence that specific intelligent veteran jockeys, like Borel and Desormeaux, have great records in the race. So if you want to have a bet on an outsider in the Kentucky Derby betting odds then ensure it is ridden by an experienced jockey who is a good judge of pace.