Kentucky Derby 2017 horses list by Dave Stevenson

2017 Kentucky Derby: Full jockey list and mount by Dave Stevenson

There are plenty of things basically synonymous with the Kentucky Derby and horse racing. You think of the signature drinks (Mint Juleps for the Kentucky Derby). There are the big hats and the bourgeois extravagance of it all. But perhaps more than any of that, it’s all about betting on horse racing.

Anecdotes and cultural betting and gambling around horse racing are widespread. It’s both exciting to put stock and money on a horse and watch them for the two minutes that they race. At the same time, it’s also nerve-racking. That can especially be the case if you’re just betting as a beginner and don’t really know what you’re doing.

Frankly, there’s no better way to lose money than to go into horse racing — especially a race like the Kentucky Derby — not knowing what you’re doing when betting. Thus, we’re going to break it all down so that you can have a better knowledge of what to do. On a baseline level, here’s a beginner’s guide to betting on horse racing.

We’ll start with the types of bets at play.

Types of Bets

The first type of wager that you can place is a simple win bet. This is exactly as simple as you would think. When you see the odds circulating and fluctuating leading up to a race, those are the odds for a winner. This is as absolutely straight-forward as you can get — but it’s also just as difficult as you would think to win. With so many factors going into determining a winner, it’s exceptionally difficult to do so.

That then leads us to the place bet. Similar to a Win bet, the Place bet is to determine which horse is going to finish in first or second place. Obviously you won’t get as good of odds on this as it’s a little bit easier to win. In the same vein, there is also the show bet, which will win if the horse you choose finishes in the top three. And again, that has the lowest payout of the Win-Place-Show bets.

Sounds simple, right? Well, that’s because that is. Then we start getting into the more complicated wagers that also have potentially massive payouts.

Before getting to the more famous trifecta, we’ll talk about an exacta bet. If you have two horses that you believe are going to finish 1-2 in a particular race, you can place an Exacta bet. Such a wager only pays out if those two horses finish in that order. And yes, that makes it pay out well as that’s ridiculously hard to peg.

Now, onto the trifecta wager, which is similar to the Exacta. However, it expands it as you’re then betting on which horses are going to finish first, second an third in the race. Once again, the increased level of difficulty means a higher payout. Increasing the potential payout further, there’s also the superfecta at play, which is the same concept with the 1-2-3-4 finishers in a race.

Since we’re talking about beginner’s guide to betting, though, there is a fun type of wager for the exacta, trifecta and superfecta called a box wager. Where the regular versions of those bets pay only if you pick the horses in order, a box wager lets you bet on the horses that will be in the top-X finishers in any order. So for a box trifecta, as long as you bet on the three horses that finish in the top three in any order, you’d win. Obviously the payout is less, but the odds of winning increase.

For all of these wagers, it’s important to note the minimum bet. For Win-Place-Show and exacta bets, the general minimum is $2. Then, for trifecta and superfecta, the minimum is often lower — usually less than $1.

Where to bet on Horse Racing

Obviously the first place that you can bet on horse racing is at the track. If you’re lucky enough to be in attendance, it’s pretty simple to walk up to the window and simply place your wager. The quandary many find themselves in is not being at the track, but still wanting to place a bet. There are plenty of options.

While you could sign up for sites such as Bovada and others similar, the most legal and frankly the best way to bet on horse racing is through You can sign up for an account, deposit money and then bet on the races with relative ease. It’s a great way to get on the fun from home.

Picking winners

If we’re being honest, the most important part of betting on horse racing is picking a winner. You can place all of the different types of bets at different places and it doesn’t mean a damn thing if you don’t have a winner on your betting slip. Thus, it’s prudent to ask how you pick a winner.

The first thing that you can do is look at the history of the horses. For the 2017 Kentucky Derby for instance, the track is going to be muddy — which severely complicates picking a winner. You’d want to look for a successful history of running well in less-than-ideal conditions. However, many of the thoroughbreds at play haven’t had such experience. Regardless, that type of research is critical.

More immediately, though, you can also benefit from looking at the horses. You need to look at the horses’ muscles and see what kind of shape their in, particularly in the midsection. If that area looks ripped, the horse is in prime racing condition. Meanwhile, you also need to look at the demeanor of the horse, which can be seen from things like the ears (you want them looking pointed and confident), the coat (an indication of spirits and health as you want it shiny) and most importantly and obviously for the horse to not be freaking out getting to its post.

As is the case with any type of betting though, there’s a point where you have to just trust instincts and guts. There’s no guarantee is instances like this and thus it’s impossible to decisively pick a winner. If you see a name and have a good feeling, take that into account. Play your feelings.

There’s certainly no exact science when it comes to betting on horse racing. However, this should be enough to get you started with the 2017 Kentucky Derby and moving forward throughout the triple crown.