How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby in Colorado

One of the most exciting sporting events of the year takes just about two minutes to complete. The Kentucky Derby brings horse racing into the spotlight for the nation as a whole, and the spectacle known as the Run for the Roses often lives up to its billing.

Betting on the races is lots of fun, potentially profitable, and easy to get started with. We’ll cover everything you need to know right here, starting with a question that’s at the top of mind for Colorado residents.

Is it legal to bet on the Kentucky Derby in Colorado?

One of the cool things about Colorado horse racing betting is that the legality question has been definitively answered. It is completely legal and safe to bet on horse racing in Colorado. Bettors can place their wagers in person at the state’s lone operating racetrack as well as at a number of legal off-track betting facilities.

Additionally, it’s perfectly legal for folks in Colorado to place horse racing bets online or via mobile app. The Colorado Racing Commission is the overseeing body, and rules surrounding the horse racing industry can be found directly on the official state website.

If you’re looking to bet on horse racing in Colorado, there are no roadblocks standing in your way. However, be sure to stick with reputable operators for online and mobile wagering. We’ll cover our top choice to fill that need in a bit.

Odds for the 2024 Kentucky Derby

The 2024 running of the Kentucky Derby took place on Saturday, May 4. A week before, the post position draw took place determining where each of the 20 qualifying horses would begin the race. That’s when the opening odds, known as the “morning line odds,” were also announced. Here’s a look at how the draw went and those opening odds:

Post PositionHorseMorning Line Odds
1Dornoch20-1
2Sierra Leone3-1
3Mystik Dan20-1
4Catching Freedom8-1
5Catalytic30-1
6Just Steel20-1
7Honor Marie20-1
8Just A Touch10-1
9EncinoSCRATCHED
10T O Password30-1
11Forever Young10-1
12Track Phantom20-1
13West Saratoga50-1
14Endlessly30-1
15Domestic Product30-1
16Grand Mo The First50-1
17Fierceness5-2
18Stronghold20-1
19Resilience20-1
20Society Man50-1
21Epic Ride50-1
Mugatu (Alternate)

Once advance deposit wagering on the 2024 Kentucky Derby opened up, the odds began moving up and down. By post time early Saturday evening, the odds for eventual winner Mystik Dan sat at about 18-to-1. As a result, anyone holding a $2 win ticket for Mystik Dan received $39.22.

How to bet on horse racing

To place your bets on the Kentucky Derby and other races in Colorado, you’re going to need a place to go. While you have options on the in-person front, it’s tough to beat the convenience of betting anywhere you like. Our top choice for that is the new FanDuel Racing app. Beyond being a great spot to place your wagers, the FanDuel Racing app features lots of great horse racing coverage.

On the betting front, you’ll be able to place all kinds of wagers on the races themselves, including the Kentucky Derby.

To get started, click on our exclusive links to begin creating your account and to take advantage of the welcome offer. You can use FanDuel Racing either on a computer via the website or by downloading the app for either Apple or Android devices.

Registering an account is quick and easy. You’ll just need to enter simple information such as name and email address. From there, just click on the “complete registration” button, and your account will be created right away. Once you’ve set up your account, you can then safely deposit funds via a variety of methods with which to make your bets.

Horse racing bet types

In its simplest form, horse racing betting revolves around picking the winner of a single race. However, there are a number of other bet types for you to consider. Some of them are simple and easy to understand, while others can take some getting used to. Let’s take a look.

  • Win: A bet on a horse to win the race.
  • Place: You can also bet on a horse to place, which means second place or better.
  • Show: A show bet is on a horse to finish the race in third place or better.
  • Exacta: This is a wager on the first two finishers in the race.
  • Trifecta: For a trifecta, the goal is to pick the top three finishers.
  • Superfecta: A superfecta bet is on the top four finishers in the race.

Win, place and show bets are considered to be the standard bets. You can place one of these bets on any horse in the race. In addition, you can also cover your individual choices by placing a bet on all three outcomes.

The other three bets on the list are considered to be exotic bets. You can choose the horses to finish in order, or you can also “box” your wager. That means that the horses you select can finish in any order and your bet will be a winner if they all come in.

Speaking of exotics, there are several other bet types that may be offered for certain races on the card.

  • Quinella: Similar to an exacta, but the two horses you choose can finish in any order.
  • Super High Five: A bet on the top five finishers in the race.
  • Pick 3: For these bets, you’re picking the winner of three straight races.
  • Pick 4: You need to pick the winner of four consecutive races.
  • Pick 5: This is a bet on five winning horses in a row.
  • Pick 6: You have to pick the winner of six straight races on the card.

Each of the bet types outlined up above will be offered at multiple price points. For example, you can place a win bet for as little as $1, but you can also drop $100 on the winner if you’re feeling frisky.

A straight superfecta bet can be placed for as little as $0.10 at some tracks, while a box of the same wager type costs $2.40 at that price point.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby

The field for the Kentucky Derby is filled with the best three-year-old thoroughbred horses for the season. In order to make it to the Run for the Roses, the horses need to prove their mettle on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

It’s based off a points system that was implemented back in 2012. There are two separate phases for qualification: Kentucky Derby Prep Season and the Kentucky Derby Championship Series.

The former takes place from late September of the previous year and runs through February. Horses participate in various races, most of which award points to the top four finishers on a scale of 10-4-2-1.

Once we get to the latter, the stakes ramp up. For a series of Grade II stakes races, the top four finishers are awarded points on a 50-20-10-5 scale.

The final part of qualification revolves around what have come to be known as the Super Six races. The winners of these contests get 100 points for their troubles. These are the races in that category and the hosting tracks.

  • Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park
  • Blue Grass Stakes, Keeneland
  • Florida Derby, Gulfstream Park
  • Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds
  • Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita Park
  • Wood Memorial Stakes, Aqueduct

By the time we get to the Derby, there’s little question as to who deserves to be in the field. All of the qualifiers have earned their spots, and those who have excelled in the Super Six races will be among the favorites to take down the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

History of the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is run over 1 1/4 miles on a dirt track at Churchill Downs. The race traces its roots back to 1875 and has been held annually ever since. There have been a number of memorable performances at Churchill through the years, several of which we have witnessed over the past decade. Here are the last 10 winners of the Derby and their finishing times.

  • 2024: Mystik Dan, 2:03.34
  • 2023: Mage, 2:01.57
  • 2022: Rich Strike, 2:02.61
  • 2021: Mandaloun, 2:01.10
  • 2020: Authentic, 2:00.61
  • 2019: Country House, 2:03.93
  • 2018: Justify, 2:04.20
  • 2017: Always Dreaming, 2:03.59
  • 2016: Nyquist, 2:01.31
  • 2015: American Pharoah, 2:03.02

In 2018, winner Justify went on to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes to claim the Triple Crown, the last horse to achieve that feat. Also, in 2019 a different horse, Maximum Security, actually crossed the finish line first, but was subsequently disqualified for interference, making Country House the winner.

Kentucky Derby betting tips

By the time the Derby rolls around, there will be a couple of clear cut favorites, as well as plenty of opinions on how the race will go down. You can just bet on the favorite or rely on the picks from a trusted source if you choose, but doing a little legwork of your own can be quite beneficial.

Beyond just choosing the winner of the race, you may want to partake in some exotic wagers. They can be quite lucrative on race days, but they are naturally tough to hit. For perspective, the payout on a $1 superfecta at the 2019 Derby was a whopping $51,400.10.

If you’re new to horse racing, you can keep it simple and hit on some major research points for good clues on which horses are for real and which ones aren’t. Here are three places to begin your search.

  • Speed ratings: While there’s more to horse racing than just speed, the name of the game is to cross the finish line first. The fastest overall horses have a better chance of doing so in comparison to their slower competitors. Examine the overall speed ratings for each horse in the field, and also take the time to look at average ratings for their last three races.
  • Record in Road to the Kentucky Derby races: As mentioned, horses have to qualify for the Derby by competing in races for which they earn points based on how they finish. Spend some time studying how the horses performed during prep season, and make special note of finishes in the bigger races over that time frame.
  • Lifetime earnings: Horses that fare well in races earn money for their troubles. Therefore, taking a gander at which horses have racked up the most earnings can provide you with a really solid clue on their overall quality. You shouldn’t solely base decisions on this number, but it does make for an excellent tiebreaker.

Colorado horse racing

There’s just one operating racetrack in the state of Colorado. Here are the details:

  • Arapahoe Park, Mile High Racing & Entertainment, 26000 East Quincy Avenue, Aurora, CO 80016

The racing calendar at Arapahoe generally runs from around mid-May through August. In addition to live racing, the track also offers simulcasting of races from tracks across the nation.

Colorado is also home to a number of OTB facilities. The Colorado Department of Revenue Enforcement Division keeps an updated list of legal and regulated spots.

Kentucky Derby FAQ

The record for the fastest time in the 1-1/4 mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is held by Secretariat. Back in 1973, the legendary horse completed the race in 1:59.40, breaking the previous record of two minutes flat by Northern Dancer in 1964. Since Secretariat’s victory, only Monarchos has posted a time under two minutes — 1:59.97 in 2001.

There’s actually a tie for first place. Both Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack are atop the list with five wins apiece at the Kentucky Derby. Arcaro’s last win came in 1952, while Hartack’s final victory was in 1969.

The list currently stands at 13 for horses who have won all three legs of the Triple Crown — the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes.

  • Justify — 2018
  • American Pharoah — 2015
  • Affirmed — 1978
  • Seattle Slew — 1977
  • Secretariat — 1973
  • Citation — 1948
  • Assault — 1946
  • Count Fleet — 1943
  • Whirlaway — 1941
  • War Admiral — 1937
  • Omaha — 1935
  • Gallant Fox — 1930
  • Sir Barton — 1919

As time has moved along and interest in the Derby continues to grow, the purse has been rising. For 2024, the total purse was the largest ever, totaling $5 million, with the money distributed among the top five finishers as follows:

  1. $3,100,000
  2. $1,000,000
  3. $500,000
  4. $250,000
  5. $150,000

This will depend on which horses finish in the top four spots, their odds, and the total amount of money that is placed into the superfecta pool. For perspective, below are the payouts on $1 superfecta bets for the last five editions of the Derby. Notice how in 2022, the year 80-to-1 longshot Rich Strike won, the superfecta payout was enormous.

  • 2024 — $8,254.07
  • 2023 — $15,643.65
  • 2022 — $321,500.10
  • 2021 — $9,456.40
  • 2020 — $7,925.80