Here Comes The Run For The Roses, Back On Schedule

Written By Dave Bontempo on 04/28/2021 - Last Updated on March 21, 2024

The 147th Kentucky Derby occurs on Saturday, with a 4:57 p.m. post, MST, and will be televised by NBC. The $3 million event from storied Churchill Downs in Louisville regains its traditional first-Saturday-in-May slot after being moved to September last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Few Colorado bettors will be among the estimated 45,000 attendance, which is roughly double last year but far removed from the 2015 record of 170,513.

Yet Centennial State gamblers have numerous wagering outlets. Horse betting via mobile apps is extraordinarily convenient. It provides instant access to the action, along with race streaming, replays and handicapping options.

Major sportsbooks will eventually enter the thoroughbred horse-racing space, too. Just not yet. For this year’s Derby, DraftKings has a free $100,000 Kentucky Derby pool. Go to its “Pools” section and answer a few questions about the projected winning horse, times, etc. Nearly 40,000 entries were recorded by midweek.

The top prize is $5,000.

Kentucky Derby field

Here’s the field for the Derby, the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. The Preakness Stakes on May 15 in Maryland and the Belmont Stakes June 5 in New York complete the Triple Crown schedule.

Secretariat holds the record for this 1 mile and 1/4 distance, in 1 minute, 59.40 seconds in 1973. None of the horses in this year’s field have gone this far.

2021 Kentucky Derby post positions

  1. Known Agenda
  2. Like The King
  3. Brooklyn Strong
  4. KeepMeInMind
  5. Sainthood
  6. 0 Besos
  7. Mandaloun
  8. Medina Spirit
  9. Hot Rod Charlie
  10. Midnight Bourbon
  11. Dynamic One
  12. Helium
  13. Hidden Stash
  14. Essential Quality
  15. Rock Your World
  16. King Fury (scratched)
  17. Highly Motivated
  18. Super Stock
  19. Soup And Sandwich
  20. Bourbonic

Significant contenders and their opening odds

Essential Quality — The 2-1 favorite survived his toughest test, a passionate stretch duel with Highly Motivated, in winning the Blue Grass Stakes. He is 5-for-5 and also won the Breeders Cup Juvenile last fall.

Highly Motivated — Was right there with the race favorite and figures to run well again and 10-1 opening odds was a good price.

Rock Your World — Impressive winner of the Santa Anita Derby, 5-1, survived a blistering speed duel to wire the field. Has the highest Beyer figure, 100, in the field. That measures a horse’s performance in a race against the track record and the race surface on that day. Won two turf races and captured the Santa Anita in his dirt debut. Improvement capability, dangerous.

Hot Rod Charlie — Just missed against Essential Quality in the Breeders Cup and won the longest of the prep races, the Louisiana Derby, which stretches 1 3-16 miles. Looked to have more in the tank in the Louisiana Derby and may be able to nimbly stretch out to 1 1-4 miles here. Would be a good value if his 8-1 opening odds hold.

Longshots who will be played

Midnight Bourbon and O Besos ran necks apart behind Hot Rod Charlie and both look attractive in trifecta and superfecta wagers at 20-1 odds.

Super Stock, 30-1, beat Concert Tour in the Arkansas Derby after losing to him in the Rebel Stakes. Improvement, especially among lightly-raced 3-year-olds, is noteworthy.

Bourbonic, 30-1, defied long odds once before. He entered the final turn dead last at the Wood Memorial and ran the whole field down at 72-1. It’s the longest-price horse ever to win the race.

Most common types of bets

Win — the horse to cross the line first

Place — second or better

Show — third place or higher

Exacta — the top two finishers in exact order. It’s good to box them. A 3-4 exacta box, for instance, provides a victory whether the horses finish 3-4 or 4-3.

Trifecta box — A $1 box of any three horses in the top three spots costs $6.

Some razzle-dazzle bet strategies

Trifecta key — Using a four-horse example, “Key” the 1 to win and any combo of the 2-3-4 to finish second and third. A $1 trifecta key costs $6. Or, “Key” the 1 in the second position with the 2-3-4 comprising the first and third-place finish, for $6 more. In this example, the keyed horse must finish first or second, with the other horses filling the remaining slots.

Consider this bet if you think a couple long shots can hit the board. This happened in the 2020 Derby, in which the $1 trifecta paid $1,311.80 and the $1 superfecta returned $7,925.80.

Tiz the Law, the 3-5 favorite, ran second. Authentic won the race at 8-1 and Mr. Big News, at 46-1, finished third. Honor A.P., 6-1, finished fourth. Keying the big favorite and being fortunate enough to find the right longshots can produce a nice payoff.

Here’s an inexpensive Superfecta Stab. A $1 superfecta wager, take any two horses in the first two finishing positions (say 14-15 and 15-14). Take two more in the third and fourth spots (9-16 and 16-9). The whole ticket costs $4.

It would read: 14-15 with 15-14 and 9-16 with 16-9. This strategy is great for throwing longshots in the third and fourth positions.

Photo by AP / Charlie Riedel
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is PlayColorado's resident horse racing and combat sports betting expert whose work can be found regularly around major races and bouts. He is a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer and also authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.

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