A Unique Way to Bet the Kentucky Derby

Twin-SpiresIt is Kentucky Derby weekend and while the whole world concentrates on selecting the Kentucky Derby winner, there are ways that people can make money on the Kentucky Derby without making a direct win wager. You do have to handicap the race, but, if you play your cards right, you could set yourself up for good payoff without making any win wagers the day of the race.

On Friday, the Kentucky Oaks will be run for the 143rd time and, since 2001, Churchill Downs has offered the Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby Daily Double. When the betting option was first offered, $804,416 was wagered on the Oaks/Derby double. The wager has grown in popularity since then and, in 2015, a record $2,562,510 was bet on the Oaks/Derby double, while, a year ago, $2,537,553 was wagered on the Oaks /Derby Double.

In the 16 years the bet has been offered, the double payoff has paid more than the parlay 11 times. Other than the first year when the bet was new and people were treading water about making the wager, there are good reasons why those other four years produced underlays with the bet. All prices mentioned from here on are based on $2 dollar wagers.

In 2003, the Bird Town/Funny Cide double paid $421.80 while parlay would have paid $529.92. Funny Cide was such a popular horse that year that OTB outlets in upstate New York, where the connections of the horse came from, ran out of money after the race because of all the winning wagers on the gelded son of Distorted Humor. Even though Funny Cide paid $27.60 to win, he probably was an underlay that year because of his popularity. So many people loaded up on the Oaks/Derby double to get a head start on wagering that year.



In 2007, the Rags to Riches/Street Sense double paid $23.80 while the parlay would have paid $29.50. Both horses went off the favorite that year; Rags to Riches was the 3-2 favorite in the Oaks and Street Sense was nearly 5-1, so many people keyed the two favorites and created an underlay for the double payoff.

In 2014 and 2015 the double paid less than the parlay.

Both years had popular favorites winning the Kentucky Derby, so many people keyed on the Derby favorites and spread in the Kentucky Oaks. In 2014, the Untapable/California Chrome double paid $11.40 while the parlay would have paid $14. In 2015, the Lovely Maria/American Pharoah double paid $54.60 while parlay would have paid $56.94.

In 2016 things went back to normal.

The Kentucky Oaks winner was Cathryn Sophia and she paid $11.40 to win. Looking at the chart of the Kentucky Derby and then comparing it to the will-pays for the Oaks/Derby double, only two horses would have paid less than the parlay. The will-pay with Mohaymen was $137 while parlay would have paid $145.92. With Brody’s Cause, the will-pay was $294.20 and the parlay payout would have been slightly higher at $295.26.

The rest of last year’s field was an overlay with the bet, ranging from Mo Tom, who had a will-pay double that was 1.09 times more than what the parlay would have paid, to Trojan Nation, who had a double payout that would have been 3.33 times more than his parlay payout.

The favorite in the bet and the eventual winner, Nyquist, paid $58.80, while the parlay would have paid $37.62. So the payout was 1.56 times better than the parlay. Exaggerator, who was the second in the will pay and in the race, had a will pay of $101.40 while the parlay was paid $69.54.

This year there are no solid favorites in either race so the possibilities of an overlay are great. If you can select the winners Kentucky Oaks, then you can really set yourself up for a nice payout and not have to make a win bet. You can then fool around with other types of exotic wagers finalizing with the Kentucky Derby.

John DaSilva
John was the longest-tenured active handicapper and writer in New York City while working with the New York Post, with 19 years of experience providing detailed daily analysis for major media outlets. He has a demonstrated history of successful selections with a career winning percentage of around 30 percent and is frequently requested to appear as an expert analyst on television, radio, and in print.
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