Kentucky Derby Odds

Kentucky Derby futures, ML odds and events

The Kentucky Derby doesn’t have a lot of rivals among sports in the United States when it comes to prestige, history, and tradition. Contested each year since its inception in 1875, the Kentucky Derby is considered the longest-running sporting event in America, drawing over 160,000 spectators to the historic grandstands at Churchill Downs along with millions of television viewers around the world.

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It’s regarded as one of the most-wagered sporting events on the yearly sporting calendar and continues to draw in more bets with each passing year. According to the officials of the Kentucky Derby, almost $150 million was wagered during the 2018 event which saw an 8% increase from the 2017 event. The Kentucky Derby is widely known as the “Run of the Roses” or “the most exciting two minutes in sports” as it unleashes a unique adrenaline rush to both the casual bettor and the most experienced gamblers in the world. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 2021 Kentucky Derby odds for each of the runners in the race.

How to read the 2024 Kentucky Derby odds

You are welcome to register an account at a trusted and reliable online sports betting site to place a bet on the 2021 Kentucky Derby without having any prior knowledge of horse racing odds or probability. However, without these vital tools at your disposal, you will essentially be throwing your money down the drain. It’s extremely important that you first get a grip around the concept of horse racing odds along with how to understand probability before you start placing bets on the Kentucky Derby.

Once you know how to read the odds in horse racing, along with a good understanding on probability, you will be able to calculate your chances of winning and your profit margin in a matter of seconds, giving you a valuable edge on race day. In this section of our 2021 Kentucky Derby guide, we will look at horse racing odds and how you can calculate both the chances of winning and your profits. We will also explain the different odds formats to help you make a more educated decision, regardless of where you decide to place a bet.

Horse Racing odds

Betting odds will be offered by bookmakers for every single horse that runs in the Kentucky Derby. The betting odds that will be displayed next to each horse will be based on the likelihood of that horse winning the event. The horse that has the best chance of winning the event will be known as the favorite and will always have the shortest odds, while the horse that is least likely to win the race will be known as the outsider and will always have the longest odds. Let’s look at an example with odds to help you understand it better.

Let’s say Essential Quality is the favorite to win the 2021 Kentucky Derby with odds of 3.00 (2/1), while Crowded Trade is the outsider in the event with odds of 501.00 (500/1).

Just by looking at the betting odds next to each horse, you will immediately see that Essential Quality has the shortest odds, while Crowded Trade has the longest odds. This tells you the likelihood of each horse winning the race and the potential return you can make if one of these two horses win the race. Always remember that likelihood is seen as probability in horse racing.

Understanding probability

When you take another look at Essential Quality, you will realize that a bookmaker determined that the horse will win around 1 race from every 3 starts, giving you a 33% chance that Essential Quality will win the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

When you take another look at Crowded Trade, you will realize that the bookmaker determined that there’s no chance of the horse winning the 2021 Kentucky Derby, giving him a 0.2% chance of winning.

Bookmakers will determine the probability for every participant in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. However, instead of posting probability figures next to each horse, you will find betting odds in either decimal (501.00) or fractional (2/1) formats.

You’ll be pleased to know that you can use the betting odds to calculate the probability on each horse winning the race.

Calculating probability with betting odds

You can use a simplistic calculation to successfully determine the probability of each horse winning the 2021 Kentucky Derby while fully understanding the betting odds displayed next to each horse as well. For instance, let’s use Essential Quality in our example to explain the calculation to you. Essential Quality has odds of 3.00 (2/1). In our calculation, we will use fractional odds (2/1) to determine the probability.

Probability Calculation: Probability (P) = Y / (X+Y) x 100. Y=1 (Denominator) and X=2 (Numerator).

  • The calculation for 2/1 odds is: P = 1 / (2+1) x 100 will give you 1/3 x 100 = Probability of 33%.
  • The calculation for 500/1 odds is: P = 1 / (500+1) x 100 will give you a probability of 0.20%.

Let’s look at other examples to obtain the implied probability:

  • 10/1 = 1/11 = 0.09 will give you 9% probability.
  • 1/1 = 1/2 = 0.50 will give you 50% probability.
  • 1/4 = 4/5 = 0.80 will give you 80% probability.

Calculating Potential Profit with Betting Odds

If you are able to calculate probability, you will also have the ability to calculate your potential returns with the same betting odds. Let’s look at a couple of examples where your bet is included in the calculation to determine your potential returns with betting odds.

  • Betting $1.00 on 2/1 odds will let you win $2.00 for every $1.00 you bet, giving you a $3.00 profit margin.
  • Betting $1.00 on 4/1 odds will let you win $4.00 for every $1.00 you bet, giving you a $5.00 profit margin.
  • Betting $1.00 on 10/1 odds will let you win $10.00 for every $1.00 you bet, giving you a $11.00 profit margin.
  • Betting $4.00 on 1/4 odds will let you win $1.00 for every $4.00 you bet, giving you a $5.00 profit margin.

How are odds calculated for the Kentucky Derby

Bookmakers are required to evaluate a wide variety of valuable information and data before the betting odds can be successfully presented next to each of the contenders. The information or data that bookmakers evaluate is based on the performance of the horse, the track conditions, the weather, and other contributing factors that can influence the outcome on race day. Bookmakers determine the probability of the horse winning the race by looking at the horse’s form, past performances, the jockey on the day, the trainer, the owners, the sex and the age of each horse, and a long list of other important factors.

Kentucky Derby and futures betting

If you ask professional bettors when is the best time to place a bet on the Kentucky Derby, the majority of bettors will give you the same answer. Most of them will advise you to place a bet months before the event gets underway by using Future betting opportunities. You will notice that most online sportsbetting sites, like TVG, will post the odds for the 2021 Kentucky Derby long before the month of May. You will also find that these odds are usually very generous, giving you the best profit margin when compared to the odds displayed on race day. Therefore, we highly recommend that you shop around and start looking for future betting opportunities on the 2021 Kentucky Derby today to increase your chances of winning big.

Kentucky Derby records

Speed Record

  • 1.5 miles = Spokane in 1889
  • 1.25 miles = Secretariat in 1973

Margin of Victory

  • 8 lengths = Assault in 1946, Whirlaway in 1941, Johnstown in 1939, and Old Rosebud in 1914.

Most Jockey Wins

  • Bill Hartack with 5 wins
  • Eddie Arcaro with 5 wins

Most Trainer Wins

  • Bob Baffert and Ben A. Jones with 6 wins

Most Owner Wins

  • Calumet Farm with 8 wins

Longest Odds to Win

  • 91 to 1 odds to Donerail in 1913

More about the Kentucky Derby

The state of Kentucky has been a home for horses for the longest time. Most of the pioneers who decided to settle in Kentucky during the late 18th century originally came from Virginia, a state that is renowned for having wealthy landowners that usually imported racehorses all the way from England. In fact, more than 92% of Kentucky taxpayers owned at least one horse by 1800.

The state of Kentucky has also been a supporter of horse race gambling for the longest time. This allowed loads of horse breeders to setup thoroughbred nurseries within the state during the 1800s. Therefore, when Meriwether Lewis Clark looked to create a major horse racing event in the United States that would rival the Grand Prix de Paris Longchamps in France and the Epsom Derby in England, there was no doubt that Louisville would be the perfect destination.

Clark developed a racetrack on ground that was donated by his uncles Henry and John Churchill, hence the Churchill Downs name. He also received financial support from a group of racing enthusiasts in Kentucky known as the Louisville Jockey Club. The group of horseracing enthusiasts sponsored the very first Kentucky Derby event back in 1875, which managed to attract a total of 15 three-year-old thoroughbreds. The runners had to endure a distance of 1.5 miles and the event attracted more than 10,000 spectators on the day. In 1896, the distance of the event was shortened to 1.25 miles to make it more attractive and less fatiguing to young thoroughbreds during Spring.

 Kentucky Derby’s rise to prominence in 1900s

The Kentucky Derby racing event was locally sponsored during the first 25 years of its existence. However, it wasn’t considered a national prominence until the 1900s after the organizers decided to make a handful of important changes to the event. The minimum bet on the event was decreased from $5.00 to $2.00, which attracted more casual bettors, and Parimutuel betting replaced the fixed odds format. The officials of the Kentucky Derby also decided to increase the fee for horses to enter the race. This basically meant that the purse received an increase which attracted higher-quality thoroughbreds in the process.

Another crucial moment in the history of the Kentucky Derby occurred in 1931 when the racing event was permanently scheduled to take place on the first Saturday of May each year. Before this was implemented, the racing event took place at various times throughout the month of May, usually conflicting with other important racing events in the country. When a consistent date was created for the Kentucky Derby, more horses were able to commit to the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes which build more popularity around the Triple Crown.

The Kentucky Derby was first televised nationally in 1952, allowing 10 million viewers across the country to tune into the horseracing event from home. In 1954, the prize purse managed to exceed $100,000, and during 1974, more than 160,000 spectators attended the racing event. Since then, the Kentucky Derby has also grown in popularity and size, reaching all-time records of more than $133 million in wagers and over 165,000 spectators in 2012.

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