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2023 Kentucky Derby Betting Tips, Best Bookmakers & Free Bets

The Kentucky Derby is the holy grail of horse racing in America and it's considered "the most exciting two minutes in sport". 

Run over 2012m at Churchill Downs every May, the best three-year-olds take to the dirt track in Kentucky for a chance to etch their name alongside the many champions of the turf. 

"The Run for the Roses" has long been the highlight of the US racing calendar and it's the biggest betting day of the year in the US. 

Attendance levels at the Kentucky Derby surpasses any other meeting, including the Breeders' Cup and with a tradition unlike any other in racing, the Kentucky Derby is a race which will stand the test of time.

Kentucky Derby Key Facts

DateSaturday, May 6th, 2023
TrackChurchill Downs
ClassGroup 1
Race TypeSet weights
Prize money$1.425 million

2023 Kentucky Derby Live Stream

If you want to watch the 2020 Kentucky Derby via your mobile or tablet, then check out our Kentucky Derby Live Streaming page.

2023 Kentucky Derby Card

Kentucky Derby Day features 14 races which go from 10:30am local time till 8:10pm local time, but the main card kicks off with the Humana Distaff at Race 6. 

The seven major races conclude with the Derby, which runs just before 7pm local time to ensure the biggest audience possible.

Race Name
Humana Distaff
Churchill Distaff
Pat Day Mile
American Turf
Churchill Downs Stakes
Woodfood Reserve Turf Classic
Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby history

The Kentucky Derby was first run in 1875 after Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark visited England and watched the Epsom Derby. 

It was there which sparked the idea to run the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, which was a new course funded by John and Henry Churchill. 

First run over 2400m, the same as the Epsom Derby, the Kentucky Derby was changed to 2012m in 1896 when Ben Brush was victorious. 

It's the first leg of the Triple Crown, which also features the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. This was first brought into prominence in 1930 when Gallant Fox became the second horse to win all three races. 

Sportswriter Charles Hatton coined the phrase "Triple Crown" and it has since been the most talked about racing series in the world. 

There have been numerous champion thoroughbreds win the Kentucky Derby, including Secretariat, which ran a track record time of 1:59.4 in 1973. 

Known as "the people's horse" Secretariat banded the nation during some tough times and his record time has yet to be broken, despite the advantages of modern technology and training procedures. 

American Pharoah was the most popular recent winner of the Kentucky Derby as it would later win the Triple Crown, the first horse to do so since Affirmed in 1978. 

The Bob Baffert-trained colt captured the imagination of race goers and although its career was cut short by stud duties, the misspelled American Pharoah will go down in US racing history. 

The win was Baffert's fourth Derby win but he trails Ben A Jones, who won six times throughout the 20th century. 

The past winners' list is an incredible display of American thoroughbred success. Names such as California Chrome, Animal Kingdom, Big Brown and Smarty Jones are just some of the recent champions to win.
War Admiral is one of the more famous winners. The gutsy runner won the Triple Crown in 1937 and would later contest the Match Race of the Century against Seabiscuit in 1938. 

That race would later be the focal point of the movie "Seabiscuit" which painted War Admiral as the villain, but he was respected by all racing fans for his ability. 

2004 marked the first year that jockeys were allowed to show corporate advertising on their silks.  

Betting is hugely popular on the Derby with $187 million being wagered on the 2012 running. 
Despite the relatively big purse, only the first five runners home receive a share of the purse. 

Its popularity is only growing with 158,070 people turning up to watch Always Dreaming win in 2017, despite the track being wet. 

Kentucky Derby betting guide

There have been numerous upsets in the Kentucky Derby but for the most part it's a good race for favourites' punters. 

2017 winner Always Dreaming paid $6 and 2016 winner Nyquist returned $4 after an unbeaten run leading into the Kentucky Derby. 

American Pharoah was another well-backed winner at 5/2, which was considered great value at the time and he paid much shorter when winning the Breeders' Cup. 

He paid the same price as California Chrome did in 2014 and punters have had a great time betting the Kentucky Derby in the last 10 years. 

The last double-figure winner was I'll Have Another in 2012, which upset fan-favourite Bodemeister in a thrilling finish. 

A year earlier there was a bigger upset when Animal Kingdom scored at $30. There were only two single-figure runners in the field and the future stud star was too good for them. 

Two-year-old form typically lines up well for the Kentucky Derby. Because it's the first race of the Triple Crown, the colts and fillies haven't had much racing as older horses and despite the distance of 2012m, horses that excel at the mile often go well. 

Kentucky Derby betting trends

The Florida Derby has been the best form race for the Kentucky Derby. Four winners from the past 15 years have gone on to win at Churchill Downs. 

The Santa Anita Derby and Arkansas Derby also have a good record for producing Kentucky Derby winners. 

Seven of the last eight winners had at least three starts as a two-year-old. Animal Kingdom was the only exception, which had only two starts as a juvenile. 

Four undefeated horses have won the Derby since Seattle Slew in 1997. Smarty Jones, Barbaro, Big Brown and Nyquist were all unbeaten. 

Expensive horses don’t always win the Kentucky Derby, but Fusaichi Pegasus was purchased for $4 million. The cheap buys include I'll Have Another ($11,000), Mine The Bird ($9,500) and Real Quiet ($17,000). 

Four active jockeys have won the race three times – Gary Stevens, Kent Desormeaux, Calvin Borel and Victor Espinoza. 

Kentucky Derby lead-up races

There are many lead-up races for the Kentucky Derby but the main races take place in the months leading up to the Derby. 

Tampa Bay Derby, Louisana Derby, Florida Derby, Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby and the Arkansas Derby are all good form guides. 

The Lexington at Keeneland is another good guide and is the final lead-up race for the Kentucky Derby. 

International races include the Juddmonte Royal Lodge at Newmarket and the Burradon at Newcastle.

Recent Kentucky Derby winners

2022Rich Strikes
2019Country House
2017Always Dreaming
2015American Pharoah
2014California Chrome
2012I'll Have Another
2011Animal Kingdom
2010Super Saver
2009Mine The Bird
2008Big Brown
2007Street Sense
2004Smarty Jones
2003Funny Cide
2002War Emblem
2000Fusaichi Pegasus
1998Real Quiet
1997Silver Charm
1995Thunder Gultch
1994Go For Gin
1993Sea Hero
1992Lil E. Tee
1991Strike The Gold
1989Sunday Silence
1988Winning Colors