As the signature event of the yearly horse racing calendar, the Kentucky Derby lives up to its billing as “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” Each year on the first Saturday in May, the eyes of the sporting world turn to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, for the running of the Kentucky Derby.
In advance of that, there’s a lengthy series of prep races to determine which horses will be in the field. Most recently, Call Me Midnight pulled off the upset at the Lecomte at Fair Grounds, outpacing favorites Epicenter and Pappacap. The Road to the Derby continues with the Southwest at Oaklawn Park on January 29, 2022.
This page takes you through how to bet on the Kentucky Derby. We’ll cover what happened last year, look at some of the top contenders for the 2022 race and show you where to bet on the Kentucky Derby online, legally in the US.
Top site to bet on the Kentucky Derby online
Contenders for the 2022 Kentucky Derby
Last updated: Jan. 24, 2022
It’s still very early in the season, but the leaderboard for the road to the 148th Kentucky Derby is beginning to take shape. To date, 12 horses on the American side have racked up 10 or more points in prep races.
- Pappacap, 14
- Epicenter, 14
- Rattle N Roll, 10
- Jack Christopher, 10
- Make It Big, 10
- Smile Happy, 10
- Slow Down Andy, 10
- Major General, 10
- Dash Attack, 10
- Mo Donegal, 10
- Call Me Midnight, 10
- Courvoisier, 10
Pappacap sits atop the board after a pair of second-place finishes at the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the American Pharoah Stakes, as well as a 3rd-place finish at the Lecomte Stakes. Epicenter finished in second at the Lecomte and pulled out a victory at the Gun Runner Stakes last December.
Last November, Churchill Downs hosted the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes with Smile Happy besting the field at odds of 9-2 to claim 10 points. We’ll have to wait and see if the momentum carries over for those currently atop the board as we get into the rest of the prep calendar. In the runup to the race, check back often for the latest updates on the top Derby contenders.
2022 Kentucky Derby entries and morning line odds
Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool II closed out on January 23, 2022. Bettors were able to make their picks for who would qualify for the 2022 Run for the Roses. When betting closed, 24 selections attracted at least some interest, with 8 choices closing at odds of 20-1 or better. The second futures pool will open up on February 11, 2022. Here’s what the top of the board looked like for the second pool.
|Horse Name||Odds||Gross Win Pool||$2 Payoff|
|All Other Colts and Geldings 2019 Foal Crop||9-5||76,356||$5.80|
|Tiz the Bomb||10-1||19,800||$22.80|
|Rattle N Roll||20-1||10,599||$42.60|
|Slow Down Andy||20-1||10,487||$43.00|
Kentucky Derby contenders, favorites and long shots
Heading into the 2021 Kentucky Derby, there were four clear favorites on the morning line odds board.
- Hot Rod Charlie, 8-1
- Essential Quality, 2-1
- Known Agenda, 6-1
- Rock Your World, 5-1
At post time, Essential Quality and Rock Your World remained the top two choices. As you’ll see in our race recap, just one of them managed to hit the board.
Kentucky Derby odds 2021
|1||Known Agenda||6-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Todd Pletcher|
|2||Like the King||50-1||Drayden Van Dyke||Wesley Ward|
|3||Brooklyn Strong||50-1||Umberto Rispoli||Daniel Velazquez|
|4||Keepmeinmind||50-1||David Cohen||Robertino Diodoro|
|5||Sainthood||50-1||Corey Lanerie||Todd Pletcher|
|6||O Besos||20-1||Marcellino Pedroza||Greg Foley|
|7||Mandaloun||15-1||Florent Geroux||Brad Cox|
|8||Medina Spirit||15-1||John Velazquez||Bob Baffert|
|9||Hot Rod Charlie||8-1||Flavien Prat||Doug O'Neill|
|10||Midnight Bourbon||20-1||Mike Smith||Steve Asmussen|
|11||Dynamic One||20-1||Jose Ortiz||Todd Pletcher|
|12||Helium||50-1||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse|
|13||Hidden Stash||50-1||Rafael Bejarano||Vicki Oliver|
|14||Essential Quality||2-1||Luis Saez||Brad Cox|
|15||Rock Your World||5-1||Joel Rosario||John Sadler|
|16||King Fury||20-1||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||Kenny McPeek|
|17||Highly Motivated||10-1||Javier Castellano||Chad Brown|
|18||Super Stock||30-1||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||Steve Asmussen|
|19||Soup and Sandwich||30-1||Tyler Gaffalione||Mark Casse|
|20||Bourbonic||30-1||Kendrick Carmouche||Todd Pletcher|
2021 Kentucky Derby results
Medina Spirit was the winner of the 147th Kentucky Derby, but the victory was marred by a post-race controversy. Here are the final results:
|Finish||Horse||Jockey/Trainer||Post||ML Odds||Final Odds||Time||Winnings|
|3||Hot Rod Charlie||Prat/O'Neill||9||8-1||6-1||1 length||$300,000|
|4||Essential Quality||Saez/Cox||14||2-1||3-1||1 length||$150,000|
|5||O Besos||Pedroza/Foley||6||20-1||42-1||5 1/2 lengths||$90,000|
|6||Midnight Bourbon||Smith/Asmussen||10||20-1||13-1||8 1/4 lengths||-|
|7||Keepmeinmind||Cohen/Diodoro||4||20-1||49-1||8 1/2 lengths||-|
|8||Helium||Leparoux/Casse||12||50-1||38-1||10 1/2 lengths||-|
|9||Known Agenda||Ortiz Jr./Pletcher||1||6-1||10-1||10 3/4 lengths||-|
|10||Highly Motivated||Castellano/Brown||17||10-1||11-1||11 lengths||-|
|11||Sainthood||Lanerie/Pletcher||5||50-1||43-1||12 3/4 lengths||-|
|12||Like the King||Van Dyke/Ward||2||50-1||50-1||12 3/4 lengths||-|
|14||Hidden Stash||Bejarano/Oliver||13||50-1||39-1||16 3/4 lengths||-|
|15||Brooklyn Strong||Rispoli/Velazquez||3||30-1||44-1||18 1/4 lengths||-|
|16||Super Stock||Santana Jr./Asmussen||18||30-1||34-1||19 3/4 lengths||-|
|17||Rock Your World||Rosario/Sadler||15||5-1||9-2||24 1/4 lengths||-|
|18||Dynamic One||Ortiz/Pletcher||11||20-1||45-1||32 1/4 lengths||-|
|19||Soup and Sandwich||Gaffalione/Pletcher||19||30-1||27-1||65 1/4 lengths||-|
|N/A - Scratch||King Fury||Hernandez Jr./McPeek||16||20-1||SCR||N/A||-|
The surprises at the top of the board led to some hefty payouts for winning bettors. Here’s how it all shook out:
- Medina Spirit: W – $26.20, P – $12, S – $7.60
- Mandaloun: P – $23, S – $13.40
- Hot Rod Charlie: S – $5.20
- $2 exacta: $503.60
- $0.50 trifecta: $848.45
- $1 superfecta: $9,456.40
- $1 super high five: $296,796.60
Kentucky Derby race facts
There have been 147 runnings of the world’s most famous horse race. Here are some of the key points to know as we get ready for the 2022 Kentucky Derby:
- 2022 location: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky
- Distance: 1 ¼ miles
- Age qualifications: 3-year-old colts, geldings, fillies
- 2022 purse: $3 million
- 2022 race date: May 7
- Post time: 6:57 p.m. ET
- Where to watch: NBC
- Fastest time: 1:59.4, Secretariat, 1973
- Most wins by a trainer: Bob Baffert, seven
How to bet on the Kentucky Derby online
You can bet on the Kentucky Derby online or via mobile device in most of the US, but doing so is not legal in every state. The complete list of legal markets is available here. Here are some of the most popular places to get in on the action:
- TVG: The home for live horse racing action on a year-round basis, TVG Racing also offers online horse betting. Simple to sign up for and easy to use, it also features regular promotions, especially when it’s Derby time.
- TwinSpires: Bearing the name of the famed twin spires at Churchill Downs, this is a trusted site that’s popular with the horse racing community. Beyond the Derby and other top events, you can bet on races from across the globe. TwinSpires will also have promos to consider on Derby day.
- NYRA: The New York Racing Association offers online horse betting via NYRA Bets. Available for online and mobile users, NYRA is a year-round destination for plenty of bettors across the nation. Beyond the standard Derby promos, you can also check out the rewards program for regular players.
Types of bets
There are seven main ways to wager on the Kentucky Derby. You can stick to picking winners, bet on which horses you think will hit the board or put together some exotic wagers for a chance at greater returns. Here’s a quick run-through of the top options:
- Win: Pick the horse that you think will win the race.
- Place: A bet on a horse to finish in first or second.
- Show: Wager on a horse to finish in at least third place.
- Exacta: A wager on the top two finishers in the race.
- Trifecta: Pick the top three finishers.
- Superfecta: Bet on the top four finishers.
- Super high five: Take your chances on picking the top five horses.
The win, place and show bets are your standard wagers. You can place these individually, but you can also combine your selections, such as a win and place, a place and show, or a win/place/show for your selected horse.
The remaining bets are exotics. They can be difficult to win consistently, but the payouts can be significant for small outlays. On the most basic level, you need to choose the correct order for your horses to finish in, but you can also make boxed selections to finish in any order, or wheeled to cover a number of bases.
What goes into the lines for the Kentucky Derby?
Once the field is set for the Derby, there will be a draw to determine post position for all participants in the race. The morning line odds for all entrants will come out several days in advance. The oddsmakers will consider a number of factors when setting the lines, such as the following:
- Performance in qualifying races.
- Public interest and expected wagering action.
- Pedigree, jockey, trainer, stable and other ancillary factors.
Any odds that come out for the Derby in advance of the draw are speculative, but they can serve as a ballpark guide of what to expect. After the lines are out, it’s time for bettors to digest and make their guesses. You can expect to see shifts in the numbers right up to post time.
Prep races leading up to the Kentucky Derby
Last updated: Jan. 24, 2021
To determine the field for the Kentucky Derby, there’s a lengthy series of prep races from the fall through spring. Here are the details on all of the completed races to date on the road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby.
|Sept. 18, 2021||Iroquois||Churchill Downs||Major General||Castellano/Pletcher||9-2|
|Sept. 25, 2021||Juddmonte Royal Lodge||Newmarket||Royal Patronage||Hart/Johnson||7-2|
|Sept. 25, 2021||Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford||Curragh||Luxembourg||Heffernan/O’Brien||8-13|
|Oct. 1, 2021||American Pharoah||Santa Anita Park||Corniche||Smith/Baffert||2-5|
|Oct. 2, 2021||Champagne||Belmont Park||Jack Christopher||Ortiz/Brown||8-5|
|Oct. 3, 2021||Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere||Longchamp||Angel Bleu||Dettori/Beckett||6-1|
|Oct. 9, 2021||Breeders’ Futurity||Keeneland||Rattle N Roll||Hernandez Jr./McPeek||8-1|
|Oct. 23, 2021||Vertem Futurity Trophy||Doncaster||Luxembourg||Moore/O’Brien||4-5|
|Nov. 5, 2021||Breeders’ Cup Juvenile||Del Mar||Corniche||Smith/Baffert||7-5|
|Nov. 27, 2021||Kentucky Jockey Club||Churchill Downs||Smile Happy||Lanerie/McPeek||9-2|
|Nov. 27, 2021||Cattleya||Tokyo Racecourse||Consigliere||Inagaki/Lemaire||1-1|
|Dec. 4, 2021||Remsen||Aqueduct||Mo Donegal||Ortiz Jr./Pletcher||7-5|
|Dec. 11, 2021||Los Alamitos Futurity||Los Alamitos Race Course||Slow Down Andy||Gutierrez/O’Neill||5-1|
|Dec. 15, 2021||Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushon||Kawasaki||Dry Stout||Tosaki/Makiura||11-1|
|Dec. 17, 2021||Springboard Mile||Remington Park||Make It Big||Ortiz/Joseph Jr.||6-5|
|Dec. 26, 2021||Gun Runner||Fair Grounds||Epicenter||Hernandez Jr./Asmussen||5-2|
|Jan. 1, 2022||Smarty Jones||Oaklawn Park||Dash Attack||Cohen/McPeek||7-1|
|Jan. 1, 2022||Jerome||Aqueduct||Courvoisier||Ortiz/Breen||4-1|
|Jan. 1, 2022||Sham||Santa Anita Park||Newgrange||Velazquez/Baffert||5-2|
|Jan. 22, 2022||Lecomte||Fair Grounds||Call Me Midnight||Graham/Cantrell||28-1|
How to qualify for points
The top four finishers in the prep races receive points that contribute to a tally along the road to the Derby. Races in the series vary in prominence and grade. The following scale shows the points, depending on the level of the race.
Naturally, those that award the largest number of points attract the most attention, and people may view the results as a precursor to what might happen at the Kentucky Derby. There are eight races in 2022 that will award 100 points to the winner.
- March 26 — UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse
- March 26 — Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds
- April 2 — Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park
- April 2 — Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park
- April 2 — Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park
- April 9 — Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack
- April 9 — Blue Grass at Keeneland
- April 9 — Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park
Kentucky Derby history
The Kentucky Derby first took place in 1875 and has been an annual event ever since. Aristides was the inaugural winner, clocking in at 2:37.75 over 1 ½ miles. The race evolved in the years that followed, with the length changing to 1 ¼ miles in 1896, where it remains to this day.
The race typically takes place on the first Saturday in May and serves as the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown. Derby winners tend to become favorites for the next two legs — the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes — but turning the trick of winning all three races has proven to be a difficult achievement.
To date, it has happened just 13 times, most recently by Justify in 2018. Secretariat holds the all-time speed record for the mile-and-a-quarter race at Churchill with a blistering time of 1:59.4 in 1973. Bob Baffert has the most Derby wins for a trainer with seven, while jockeys Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack are tied for the lead with five each.
Kentucky Derby FAQ
When is the Kentucky Derby?
The Kentucky Derby usually runs on the first Saturday in May.
The race marks the end of the Kentucky Derby Festival, which takes place over two weeks in Louisville, KY. The fest includes a balloon race, a steamboat race, a huge firework display and a parade.
How many horses run in the race?
In recent history, the race sets the number of runners at 20. The first race saw 15 runners, with a varied number of starters throughout the history of the race.
How much does the winner of the Kentucky Derby receive?
The overall purse for the Kentucky Derby is $3 million, with the winning connections in the race landing the first prize of $1,860,000. This compares to the sum of $2,850 awarded to the inaugural winner in 1875.
When is post time?
The 2022 Kentucky Derby is scheduled to start at 6:57 p.m. ET, the 12th of 14 races at Churchill Downs that day. The doors open at 8 a.m. ET, allowing fans to enjoy the all-day experience.
How much are Kentucky Derby tickets?
General admission tickets for the Kentucky Derby go on sale online in November, starting at $60. As the date for the race nears, the tickets increase in price to $75 – $80, while purchasing a ticket on the day of the race itself will cost $85.
How long does the Kentucky Derby last?
Historically, the Kentucky Derby has lasted just a little more than two minutes, ever since the move to 1.25 miles in 1896, which attributes the nickname “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”
Who was the fastest horse to win the Kentucky Derby?
In the history of the Kentucky Derby, only two horses have ducked under the famed two-minute mark.
The first was Secretariat, who won the race in 1973 with a time of 1:59.40 seconds, the fastest running of the race. Monarchos romped home with a time of 1:59.97, breaking the two-minute mark in 2001.
Despite these fast-winning times, neither horse can claim the record margin of victory.
Four horses share the record-winning distance of 8 lengths:
- Old Rosebud (1914)
- Johnstown (1939)
- Whirlaway (1941)
- Assault (1946)
Which jockeys/trainers have the most wins?
Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack are tied for the most wins as jockeys, each crossing the line first on five occasions. Bob Baffert is the winningest trainer, with seven victories.