The biggest betting race of the year in the United States is approaching, as the Kentucky Derby manages to captivate audiences from across the country regardless of their betting experience. 

Like the Grand National in the UK, the Kentucky Derby is renowned race and luck often plays a huge factor, often making it a nightmare for those that work within the racing community given that the race could play out in a number of different ways. Check out how the handicapping is shaping up for the race on the 7th of May: twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/handicapping 

However, what are some of the biggest factors that should be taken into account when it comes to handicapping the race and finding the winner?

Favorites In The Kentucky Derby

To those new to betting, many will just consider placing a bet on the favorite to win the race, as the market would suggest that would be the most likely outcome. However, favorites have had a poor recent record in the Kentucky Derby, with the previous three all failing to win. Furthermore, only one favorite has won the Kentucky Derby in the previous five renewals. 

The only winning favorite was Justify in 2018, as the three-year-old went on to win the Triple Crown. Last year’s favorite for the Derby was Essential Quality. He overcame early struggles in the race to eventually finish third following Medina Spirit’s disqualification, while Tiz The Law finished second when he was favourite, and Game Winner finished back in fifth in 2019. 

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Post Position

If you haven’t already got a bet on the Kentucky Derby, then it is probably worth waiting until the draw has been made now. The draw will be a significant moment on Derby week, as the odds are likely to shift considerably once the field has been handed the stall number that they will be starting in. There are a number of trends that come with the draw, including ones that punters will be hoping that their selections manage to avoid. For example, stall six has only produced two winners in 91 starts, with the most recent winner being in 1993 with Sea Hero. 

Meanwhile, stall 17 is yet to produce a Kentucky Derby winner in 42 attempts. Stalls between seven and ten have produced successful Derby horses in history, with stalls seven and eight both producing eight winners, with stall seven also producing 20 places, as well as last year’s winner Mandaloun. The most successful stalls in Derby history are four and fifth, as both have produced ten winners and 22 top three finishers. Both stalls have also produced winners since 2010, with Super Saver winning from four, and Always Dreaming winning from five in 2017. 

Prep Races 

The road to the Kentucky Derby gets underway in September, with races for three-year-olds seeing qualifying points up for grabs. The most significant races tend to happen towards the end, with a number of races offering 100 qualifying points. 

Over recent years, the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby have both been successful prep stops, with both Mandaloun and Country House passing through these races before their wins in 2021 and 2019, respectively. However, neither horse actually won the Louisiana Derby, with Mandaloun finishing sixth and Country House finishing fourth. 

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Another race with an excellent record of producing Derby winners has been the Santa Anita Derby. Four horses since 2012 have passed through that race before winning the Kentucky Derby. Justify, I’ll Have Another and California Chrome all won the Grade 1, while Authentic finished second in the race before winning the 2020 Kentucky Derby. 

Races that don’t have strong records when it comes to Triple Crown success include the Blue Grass and Wood Memorial, which have both failed to produce winners in over ten years.

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