How Profitable Is It To Bet The Derby Favorite

One of the great joys of American sports is getting to invest and participate in the sport alongside professional athletes.

Some people do this by participating in fantasy leagues and tracking the careers of notes teams and athletes. Some do this by playing in scrimmage leagues

However, horse racing is special in that the average fan can not only participate in the operation of the sport itself by placing bets, but they can also net themselves a profit by picking winners.

Serious handicappers, of course, place bets daily on ordinary races. However, there are plenty of fans who prefer to test the gambling waters only on horse racing’s most sacred traditional races, such as the Kentucky Derby.

Winning a Derby bet is always most exciting when you manage to pick a long shot that everyone else seems to have overlooked, such as last year’s winner, Rich Strike.

However, such shockers are a relative rarity, and most of the time the likeliest Derby winners are the horses that have the most money bet on them.

You can check here how to bet on the Derby if you are a beginner. Check out what is KD handicapping here:

Is it profitable to bet on the Kentucky Derby favorite? To figure that out, you should first learn the answers to these other questions.

How Often Does The Favorite Win?

In most races, betting favorites tend to win approximately 30% of the time. Of the last twenty Kentucky Derby winners, nine have been post time favorites:

Smarty Jones (2004), Street Sense (2007), Big Brown (2008), Orb (2013), California Chrome (2014), American Pharoah (2015), Nyquist (2016), Always Dreaming (2017), and Justify (2018). This means that favorites have won 45% of the most recent Derbies, making them an overall safe bet.

How Much Is The Payout When A Derby Favorite Wins?

Being the favorite simply means that the horse has more money wagered on it than the other horses in the race.

Although a favorite always has the shortest odds of any entry, some favorites are more profitable than others.

Of the nine winning favorites discussed above, the one with the shortest post time odds was Nyquist, the 2016 winner.

He came into the race with impressive credentials, having gone undefeated as a two-year-old (including winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) and continuing that unbeaten streak at three by taking the Grade II San Vicente Stakes and the Grade I Florida Derby.

On a two-dollar win bet, he paid $6.60. (Interestingly, that edition of the Kentucky Derby was extremely formful, as the first four betting choices were also the first four finishers in the race.)

The winning favorite with the longest odds from that time span was Orb, who had also won the Florida Derby, but was nowhere near as dominant in the three-year-old division as Nyquist, having won only a maiden race from four attempts at age two.

A two-dollar win bet on Orb provided a $12.80 payout, so considerably more money.

There are two key takeaways here. First, compared to everyday races, the favorite in the Kentucky Derby is fairly likely to win.

Second, there can be a lot of variance in payout among favorites from year to year, so in order to make a profit, it still behooves the bettor to watch the tote board and consider exotic wagers, such as an Oaks-Derby Double bet (in which the bettor selects the winner of both the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby) or betting an exacta or trifecta that includes the favorite along with some carefully chosen longshots.