The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday. For most of my life attending the Kentucky Derby was #1 on my sports bucket list. I was lucky enough to cross it off my list in 2013 when I was (soaked in rain) in attendance when Orb crossed the finish line as the winner. Every first weekend in May I always get two responses from my friends about the Derby. The first goes something along the lines of “Goz these are horses stop it!”. I get it, horse racing is not for everyone. I do know from experience that when you tell someone the average pay outs the last 19 years following the Kentucky Derby they quickly change their tune


Average Payouts at Kentucky Derby Since 1997


Average $2 Exacta $930.22, Highest $9,814.80,

Average $2 Trifecta $11,814.53 Highest: $133,134.80

Average $1 Superfecta $99,817.24 Highest $864,253.50


The second thing I always get asked is “How do I bet?” Usually that first Saturday in May at OTB with my buddies turns into that scene from the 2008 movie 21 when the students are being taught how to count cards

There is nothing wrong with that at all. I enjoy helping people learn more about horse racing. In fact at the bottom of our rules, we have even added what to tell the clerk at the betting window if you have never done it before. Before you head to the betting window, there are some rules for the casual Kentucky Derby fan to know. Remember the advice below is for CASUAL handicappers. For more of an in depth breakdown of the horse racing scene check out the Paddock Pass hosted by Brian Mariano.



RULE #1 DON’T Flat Bet a Winner with over $20


If you are having fun and just want to place a $2-$17 wager on a horse to win that’s fine. Everyone has their limit and may not want to spend more than needed on the race. If you are planning on a wager more than $20 on a single horse to win, stop yourself.

Instead place a bet called a “$1 exacta wheel”. An exacta wheel means you are predicting your horse to win the race, then taking ANY horse to finish in 2nd place. Not only are you wagering on the horse you want to win but then you are adding that ANY horse can come in 2nd and you will still win your wager. Of course it is guaranteed some horse will finish in 2nd place!


For instance, let’s use the 2014 Kentucky Derby for an example. Let’s say you had decided to wager $20 on California Chrome to win. Your pick Chrome goes off at 5/2 at post time and wins. So (2.5 multiplied by 20, +20=$70). Not a bad payoff, you got a nice cool $50 in your pocket. However if you had wagered a $1 exacta wheel you would have won $170. The $1 Exacta wheel paid $170 because a 37-1 odd horse finished in second. Only six times in the last nineteen Kentucky Derbys has a $20 wager flat bet paid more than a $1 exact wheel wager. If you are thinking about betting $20 on a winner, spent $19 on a $1 exacta wheel instead. If you are thinking about placing a $40 flat bet on a horse to win, instead place a $2 exacta wheel wager that costs you $38 instead. That 19-1 ratio continues on that bet depending on your degree of spending.


WHAT TO SAY AT WINDOW: Race 12 Churchill Downs One Dollar Exacta Wheel (# of horse you want to bet) OVER



Rule #2 Basic Wagers Give You Basic Winnings


Win. Place. Show. Those are the terms that are used in placing basic wagers in horse racing. Place means if you wager on a horse and he finishes first or second you collect winnings. Show means if you wager on a horse and he finishes first, second or third you collect winnings. Across The Board means you wagered on a horse to Win, Place and Show on one ticket. If your horse wins, you receive Win, Place and Show payoffs. If your horse finishes second, you receive Place and Show payoffs; and if your horse is third, you receive the Show payoff only. A $2 show wager on last year’s winner American Pharoah paid $5.80. A $2 place wager on American Pharoah paid $4.20. Other bets called “exotic wagers” like exactas, trifectas and superfectas at $2 a piece paid $72.60, $202.00 or $1268.20. Everyone has their own preferences but please do not believe basic wagers will give you massive payouts


WHAT TO SAY AT WINDOW: Race 12 Churchill Downs Two Dollars (# of dollars you want to bet) to (Say your bet: Win, Place, Show or Across the Board)


Rule #3 Remember Sports Wagering and Horse Racing Wagering Are Different


This is a consistent misconception I hear every year and it is one that seems to happen in a majority of cases to sports wagering fans. For example a sports fan may place a future prop bet on the New York Jets winning the Super Bowl at 10-1.  That line may move either in the direction of adding or reducing odds in accordance to the amount of money a specific casino is receiving on the prop bet. Sports fans know that you may get a better line at the initial opening of the odds before the casino begins to see action on which way they should move the odds. Once a fan has their ticket, they know that their wager is locked in then and they will be paid accordingly to the odd they initially wagered.


Horse racing handicapping is different. An easy way to think of horse racing wagering is to imagine every wager across the country placed in a big pie. Last year alone 137 million dollars was wagered on the Derby. Throughout the day you may see a horse’s odds you wagered on either increase or decrease. That is the direct result of actual money being wagered on or not your horse. At the end of the race everyone who has a winning ticket needs to be paid out. Also each state has their own tax fee they will take out. If you are lucky enough to have a huge pay-day because of a winning ticket, don’t be surprised if you have to fill out some tax forms later too for tax purposes. The Derby is notorious for having constant movement on their line odds. Why is that?


Rule #4 Don’t Let The Name Fool You


This is where the smart wagers and casual handicappers can hopefully separate themselves. Each year in March Madness we hear stories of someone who does not even watch college basketball winning an office pool. A similar situation happens on Derby Day. A large number of casual fans place wagers on the derby just on the name of the horse alone! There are multiple ways to find out about horses running in this year’s field. Check out 1045 The Team’s Youtube page and listen to some of our insiders picks.


Rule #5 Learn the Term BOX but…


This term BOX is involved in exotic wagering which I have always enjoyed because it provides larger payouts. Let’s use the 2013 Derby for an example. Person #1 goes to the betting window and says “$1 Trifecta 3-4-16”. Person #2 goes to the betting window and says “$1 Trifecta Box 3-4-16”. Person #1’s wager costs $1. Person #2’s wager costs $6. The race finishes and Person #1 goes to the window and receives $0. Person #2 goes to the window and receives $3,462.60!!! What happened?!


“Boxing” horses changes your ticket so that you have all possible combinations of the horses selected in your wager. An exacta bet is when you try to wager on the horses that will finish in the top two of the race. Trifecta is when you try to wager on the horses that will finish in the top three of the race. Superfecta is when you try to wager on the horses that will finish in the top four of the race. The minimum $1 Exacta Box with 2 horses costs $4. A minimum $1 Trifecta Box with three horses costs $6. A minimum $1 Superfecta box with 4 horses costs $24.


There is no limit on the amount of horses you can box in any of these wagers. This is where you can see a massive bump in your bank account if your ticket is right! Everything seems exciting now but…


Rule #6 BOX Carefully


As great as the box is, financially it can start costing more than you may realize. Let’s go back to our previous example. Why was Person #2’s wager $5 more expensive than Person #1’s wager? The reason for that is Bettor #2 actually had SIX $1 wagers rather than Bettor #1’s one single wager. Person #2’s wager was actually this


Person #2’s Actual Wager Combinations

$1 Trifecta 3-4-16

$1 Trifecta 3-16-4

$1 Trifecta 4-3-16

$1 Trifecta 4-16-3

$1 Trifecta 16-3-4

$1 Trifecta 16-4-3

Let’s say Person $2 in this bet wanted to do a $1 Trifecta Box with 4 horses instead of 3. This new bet would cost $24 instead of $6. Why is that? The answer is that by adding a 4th horse, 18 new $1 combinations of horse finishs are now possible with that wager. My advice is to always stick with $1 boxes. That’s because if you are lucky enough to have one hit, less taxes will be taken out of your overall winnings. On average the past 19 years a $2 Trifecta winning ticket has paid $11,814. Two $1 Trifecta winning tickets would have paid $5,907. Less money won on a single ticket but less taxes on the overall winnings.


The formula to remember is this when boxing in exotic wagers

Exotic Wagering Boxing Tool To Remember Pricing (X means Multiple)


Exacta: Amount of Horses you Want To Box X Amount of Horses you Want To Box -1


Trifecta: Amount of Horses you Want To Box X Amount of Horses you Want To Box – 2 X

Amount of Horses you Want To Box Subtract By 1


Superfecta: Amount of Horses you Want To Box X Amount of Horses you Want To Box-3 X Amount of Horses you Want To Box-2 Amount of Horses you Want To Box-1


WHAT TO SAY AT WINDOW: Race 12 Churchill Downs One Dollar (Either Exacta, Trifecta or Superfecta) ,BOX (then list off your horses)





It is the most exciting two minutes in sports! Enjoy it. Host a Kentucky Derby party and invite your friends over to enjoy the race. We will be offering picks all week long on 1045 The team but ultimately it’s up to you. If you have any questions or need some advice finding that next great horse Tweet me @TomGozz.