Legal Sports Report

Triple Crown Betting Guide – How to Bet, Odds & Lines

The Triple Crown of US horse racing is made up of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

Taking place between the beginning of May and June, the three races offer the ultimate test for 3-year-old thoroughbreds. In the history of the Triple Crown, only 13 horses have achieved the feat of winning all three. Will it happen again in 2019?

This article is split into the following sections to help you gain insight into all things betting on the Triple Crown, including a strategy for betting on each race and the Triple Crown itself.

Qualification for each of the three races is then examined, finishing with a look at the history of the Triple Crown:

  • Where to bet the Triple Crown online
  • The races, how to qualify and past winners
  • Triple Crown betting strategy
  • History and Triple Crown FAQ

How to bet on the Triple Crown

Anyone who wants to place a bet on any of the Triple Crown races will have a variety of options.

The first of the options is to place a wager online. There are many respected and safe registered gambling sites across the US. Good examples are BetAmerica, TVG and TwinSpires. Sticking to these regulated sites, as opposed to offshore sites, is undoubtedly your best and most secure option.

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Top 3 Sites for Betting on the Triple Crown

No. 1 TVG: 100% matched wager up to $200

TVG Kentucky DerbyThis popular betting site is part of the ‘Television Games Network’. You can watch live streams of big races via their website – including the big events which make up the Triple Crown. TVG is now owned by international gambling giant Paddy Power Betfair.

Use promo code GET200 when you register, and receive a 100% matched wager up to $200.

No. 2 BetAmerica: 100% to $100 matched welcome bonus

BetAmerica Kentucky DerbyWith coverage of a huge 425 racetracks around the world, you’ll have plenty of choice at BetAmerica. As well as the usual Triple Crown bets, you can take part in handicapping and sports betting contests here. Those key races are live streamed via the iPhone app and browser-based site.

New bettors can claim a 100% matched bonus up to $100. Regulars are well rewarded too, with both a wager rewards program and a separate VIP section for high-rollers.

No. 3 TwinSpires: Get $100 in bonus cash (wager based)

TwinSpires Kentucky DerbyWhat better site to bet on the Triple Crown than TwinSpires – which is named after the famous landmark at Churchill Downs. Bettors can enjoy a professional statistics service (Past Performance), which is free for any races you bet on. There are also pooled bets, so you can bet with friends on outcomes of the big-name races.

Instead of a matched deposit bonus, TwinSpires give you $20 free bets for every $100 wagered. New bettors can take advantage of this up to 5 times for $100 extra in total.

Other methods to bet on the Triple Crown

With the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes being the most important races of the year, many other tracks will feature simulcast wagering on all three. Head down to your nearest track and enjoy the atmosphere of these big events with fellow racing fans.

Another option for bettors across the US is off-track betting (OTB) sites. You can find these located in many states across the country. If you’re not sure where your nearest OTB is, visit your favorite search engine to find out.

Perhaps the easiest option of all is to attend one (or more) of the three races. At the track, head to a teller and place your bet. More than 300,000 people will attend the Triple Crown races in 2019. It is the perfect way to get immersed in the atmosphere.

The Triple Crown races

The Kentucky Derby

Known as the Run for the Roses, the Kentucky Derby takes place annually on the first Saturday in May. The race is run over a distance of 1.25 miles at Churchill Downs and has a maximum field size of 20.

The Preakness Stakes

Known as the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans, the Preakness Stakes takes place annually on the third Saturday in May. The race is run over a distance of 1 3/16 miles at Pimlico Race Course and has a maximum field size of 14.

The Belmont Stakes

Known as the Test of the Champion, the Belmont Stakes takes place annually on the first or second Saturday in June. The race is run over a distance of 1.5 miles at Belmont Park and has a maximum field size of 12.

Triple Crown betting odds

If you like placing bets at long odds, you might want to place a wager on your pick to win the Triple Crown early in the season. Currently, there are some long odds on the horses at the top of the market. Shop around, and you’ll find some of these impressive long odds.

Leading contender Game Winner, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2018, is currently available at odds of 40-to-1 (+4000) to win all three. Racehorse Improbable, a recent runner-up in the Rebel Stakes, is available at 66-to-1 (+6600) to snag the Triple Crown.

Game Winner wins Breeders Cup Juvenile

Interestingly, you can also place a bet on whether or not the Triple Crown will be won in 2019. At odds of 9-to-2 (+450), this is a fun wager, where you’re guaranteed to be still standing after the Kentucky Derby. And then you can cheer on the winning horse on in both the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

Types of bets on the Triple Crown

As well as the overall Triple Crown betting, there are many wagers you can place on each of the three races. The most popular bets of these are win, place and show odds.

Win bet

A win bet is the most straightforward of all where you’ll win when your pick is the first past the post.

Place bet

A place bet will win if your selection finishes first or second, with a smaller payout than your win bet, but double the chance of winning.

Show bet

The show bet will payout if your pick finishes first, second or third in the race, offering even more chance of landing a payout, but again, at reduced odds.

Exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets

As well as these popular options, you can also place an exacta bet (where you’ll aim to predict first and second place), a trifecta (first, second and third place in correct order) and a superfecta (first, second, third and fourth place in the correct order).

The payouts for each of these bets increase as the difficulty increases.

Below is the payout chart for the 2018 Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby Payouts Based on the Type of Bet

 WinPlaceShow
1st. Justify$7.80$6.00$4.40
2nd. Good Magic$9.20$6.60
3rd. Audible
ExactaTrifectaSuperfecta
$69.60$141.40$19,618.20

As you can see, a win, place and show bet on racehorse Justify paid $7.80, $6 and $4.40 respectively, with each payout decreasing as you would expect. Justify went on to win the Triple Crown, winning with a payout of $2.80 in the Preakness Stakes and $3.60 in the Belmont Stakes.

Triple Crown prop bets

There are a series of prop bets you can place on the Triple Crown races, some of which can add a fun element. Being the first of the three races and possibly the biggest race of all, the Kentucky Derby usually has the most prop bets around it.

Serious bets include the finishing time and whether or not the winning saddle number will be odd or even. More fun bets on the race will be based around the weather or which celebrities will be on the screen while “My Old Kentucky Home” is playing.

Prop bets on the Preakness Stakes will primarily be based around the winner of the Kentucky Derby, who most of the attention will be on in the lead up to the race. There might be head-to-head bets on offer which include the Triple Crown hunter, as well as bets on exactly where the horse will finish. Fun bets on the Preakness Stakes will include alcohol consumption on the infield.

The range of prop bets on the Belmont Stakes will increase if the same horse won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. This being the case, you’ll find a whole host of bets around this champion 3-year-old.

Unfortunately for Americans, most of these wagers aren’t available in US markets, or at the tracks or apps. But you can often bet on them in the UK and European markets.

Triple Crown betting strategy

In the lead up to the Kentucky Derby, you’ll find a series of 35 races that make up the road to the Kentucky Derby, which encompasses virtually all of the big races for 3-year-old horses in the lead up to early May.

To qualify for the Kentucky Derby, horses will earn points in each of these races, with the leading 20 making the field. As such, this competitive series of races offers a fantastic form guide, with leading contenders potentially meeting in the lead up to the race.

The overall table can make for interesting reading, although it shouldn’t be used solely as a form guide. As an example, racehorse Magnum Moon led the standings with 150 points in 2018, having been unbeaten heading into the Kentucky Derby.

Down in ninth place in the rankings was Justify, with 100 points; however, Justify had entered merely one race in the road to the Kentucky Derby and had been successful.

Heading into the Preakness Stakes, you have the further form guide of the Kentucky Derby, and it’s a pretty sure thing that the Derby winner will be the favorite. The field will be a nice mix of Derby runners and those tasting a Triple Crown race for the first time.

With just two weeks between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, it can pay dividends looking at a longer odds horse who might have benefited from missing out on the Kentucky Derby and therefore having a more extended rest.

Belmont Stakes is perhaps the most interesting of all Triple Crown races, as it is run more than 1.5 miles (a quarter of a mile longer than the Kentucky Derby and 3/8ths of a mile longer than the Preakness Stakes).

As such, the race is a test of endurance and may not always be ideal for the horses that shined in the previous two races. Consider, of the 36 horses that won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, only 13 have gone on to win the Belmont, too. Look for horses with that added stamina, who once again, might have benefited from that long break.

Qualification for the Triple Crown series

Triple Crown QualifiersIn late January, connections can enter their horses for the Triple Crown series. Further entry into each of the three races will cost $15,000, with an additional $15,000 payable if a horse makes the starting field.

The Kentucky Derby has a limit of 20 runners, while the final standings set the field in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series (as mentioned above). The 35 races offer differing numbers of points to the leading finishers, with 100 points on offer for winning any of the final seven in the Championship Series.

Entry into the Preakness Stakes is limited to 14 runners. Qualification is slightly more complicated, but it mostly based around winnings in both graded stakes races and nonrestricted races. A finish in the Top 5 of the Kentucky Derby will guarantee a spot in the Preakness Stakes.

The Belmont Stakes has a limit of 12 runners and is based on career earnings. Good finishes in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes should ensure enough prize money to secure a spot in the Belmont Stakes.

Past winners of the Triple Crown

In the history of the Triple Crown events, only 13 horses have ever managed to win all three races.

The first of these was Sir Barton back in 1919. It has been said that Sir Barton was only in the Kentucky Derby as a pacemaker for stablemate Billy Kelly, although he must have set quite a pace, leading from start to finish and winning by five lengths.

He then won the Preakness Stakes in a similar style – incredible when you consider that in 1919 the Preakness Stakes took place just four days after the Kentucky Derby. Sir Barton would duly go on to complete the Triple Crown in only 32 days (while also winning the Withers Stakes within that short time).

In 1930 and 1935, the Triple Crown was won for the second and third times by Gallant Fox and Omaha. Both of these horses were trained by Jim Fitzsimmons, making him the only trainer in the 20th century to achieve the feat of winning the Triple Crown twice.

In between 1935 and 1948, the Triple Crown was won six times, an incredible run of success for the leading horses. Omaha (1935) started this run and was followed by War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Citation (1948).

By the late 1940s, it seemed that the Triple Crown would continue to be a regular occurrence. However, it would be a quarter of a century before it was achieved again. The legendary Secretariat not only winning the Triple Crown in 1973 but doing so with a record time in each of the races (times that still hold today).

It seemed Secretariat set the trend in the 1970s, as both Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978) won the Triple Crown, too – the only time in history that the feat has been achieved in consecutive years.

Once again, this short burst of success was followed by a long wait – this time, a record 37 years. American Pharoah won it all in 2015, and in 2018, the feat was achieved again by Justify. Both American Pharoah and Justify are trained by Bob Baffert, meaning Baffert had matched the earlier achievement of trainer Fitzsimmons of winning the Triple Crown twice.

Bob Baffert and Justify

List of all Triple Crown winners

YearHorseJockeyTrainer
1919Sir BarneyJohnny LoftusH. Guy Bedwell
1930Gallant FoxEarl SandeJim Fitzsimmons
1935OmahaWillie "Smokey" SaundersJim Fitzsimmons
1937War AdmiralCharles KurtsingerGeorge Conway
1941WhirlawayEddie ArcaroBen A. Jones
1943Count FleetJohnny LongdenDon Cameron
1946AssaultWarren MehrtensMax Hirsch
1948CitationEddie ArcaroHorace A. "Jimmy" Jones
1973SecretariatRon TurcotteLucien Laurin
1977Seattle SlewJean CrugruetWilliam H. Turner, Jr.
1978AffirmedSteve CauthenLaz Barrera
2015American PharoahVictor EspinozaBob Baffert
2018JustifyMike SmithBob Baffert

Triple Crown trivia

A total of 36 horses have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes and, therefore, had the chance of completing the Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes.

Of the 23 unsuccessful horses, three failed to appear at the Belmont Stakes: Burgoo King was lame in 1932, Bold Venture was lame in 1936 and I’ll Have Another was scratched from the race due to a tendon injury the day before the race in 2012.

Of the 20 unsuccessful race attempts, Real Quiet in 1998 was perhaps the unluckiest, losing out in a photo finish to Victory Gallop.

Alydar was possibly the best horse in the history of the Triple Crown to never win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes or the Belmont Stakes. In 1978, he came up against the legendary Affirmed and would come second in each of the three races, the only horse to ever achieve this “unlucky” feat.

The Breeders’ Cup was established in 1984, with the Breeders’ Cup Classic race, alongside the Triple Crown, unofficially making up the grand slam of US horse racing. The only horse to have won all four races is American Pharoah in 2015.

Gallant Fox, who won in 1930, is the only Triple Crown winner to sire another winner, Omaha in 1935.

All Triple Crown races are now only open to 3-year-olds. However, in 1890, the age restriction was lifted, and the race was run under handicap conditions (where the higher quality horses would carry more weight). The 5-year-old Montague would win and become the only known 3-year-old winner of a Triple Crown race in history.

Triple Crown FAQ

How much do the winners of the Triple Crown races win?

The Kentucky Derby is the richest of the Triple Crown races, with an overall purse of $2 million. The winner of the Derby will receive $1.432 million, with prize money paid to the first five finishers.

With prize funds of $1.5 million, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes offer the same total purse. However, each of the two races pays out in different ways.

The winner of the Preakness Stakes will collect $900,000, and each of the Top 5 will receive prize money.

The winner of the Belmont Stakes will collect $800,000, and each of the Top 8 will receive prize money.

When are the post times of each race in 2019?

The post time for the Kentucky Derby is 6:50 p.m. EST on Saturday, May 4.

The Preakness Stakes sees the horses head to post at 6:20 p.m. EST on Saturday, May 18.

The Belmont Stakes will start at 6.30 p.m. EST on Saturday, June 8.

How many fillies have won Triple Crown Races?

Eleven fillies have won the Triple Crown.

A little-known fact is that a filly won the first-ever Triple Crown race. In 1867, it was the first-ever running of the Belmont Stakes and the aptly named Ruthless would win the race by a head.

Five fillies have won the Kentucky Derby, while three fillies have won each of the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Rachel Alexandra was the last filly to win a Triple Crown race when winning the Preakness Stakes in 2019.

What are the fastest times for the Triple Crown races?

Secretariat holds the record for all three of the Triple Crown races after his exploits in 1973. He won the Kentucky Derby in 1:59.4, only one of two horses to ever break the magic 2-minute barrier. Secretariat won the Preakness Stakes in a time of 1:53, with many other horses over the years ducking under the 1:54 mark.

Perhaps the most standout performance of all was when winning the Belmont Stakes. Secretariat would cross the finishing line in 2:24, which is incredible considering that no other horse has ever run under the 2:26 mark.

Who are the most successful jockeys/trainers in the history of the Triple Crown?

The legendary Eddie Arcaro is the most successful of all Triple Crown jockeys. Throughout his career, he amassed an incredible 17 wins: five Kentucky Derby wins, six wins in each of the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

He, therefore, holds the sole record for total Triple Crown wins and most wins in the Preakness Stakes, while maintaining the joint record in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

Arcaro is also the only jockey in history to have won the legendary Triple Crown twice.

Baffert is the most successful trainer in the history of the Triple Crown. When Justify completed the feat by winning the Belmont Stakes last year, Baffert moved onto a total of 15 winners, eclipsing D. Wayne Lukas who finished his career on 14.

Baffert is one of only two trainers to have won the Triple Crown twice – his two victories in 2015 with American Pharoah and Justify 2018 match the achievements of Fitzsimmons who won in 1930 with Gallant Fox and Omaha in 1935.

In 1993, Julie Krone would ride Colonial Affair in the Belmont Stakes. The horse was a 13-1 longshot, but Krone and Colonial Affair would upset the odds and win the race. To date, this is the only success in the history of the Triple Crown by a female jockey.

In 2013, Rosie Napravnik became the first-ever female jockey to ride in each of the Triple Crown races.

All eyes will be on the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes again this year. Can another horse make a legendary mark on the sport by winning all three?

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