The 147th Kentucky Derby is now hours away. The prestige surrounding the event generates so many great anecdotes.
The Kentucky Derby history is rich with facts and figures that provide a big-picture perspective on one of America’s oldest sporting events. This includes some potential side horse betting journeys.
Here is a look back at some of the top Kentucky Derby moments.
Kentucky Derby history and betting highlights
The first Derby took place in 1875.
Today, it has a $3 million purse. Heading into his weekend’s event, as far as wagering goes,2019 is the year to beat. That year, a record $165.5 million was bet on the Kentucky Derby.
The global pandemic caused a temporary plunge to less than $100 million last year. However, post-pandemic numbers, fueled by legalized online gambling, should set new records in the future.
And here are some other notable betting highlights from the previous 146 Kentucky Derbys.
This requires going back in time to 1913 when Donerail, at 91-1, won the Kentucky Derby. The $184.90 payout for a $2 ticket remains the biggest in history.
Other notables: Giacomo, 50-1 in 2005 and Mine That Bird, 50-1 in 2009.
The 2005 Kentucky Derby still holds the No. 1 spot. Giacomo, Closing Argument, Afleet Alex, and Don’t Get Mad returned a whopping $864,253 for the $ 1 super.
The odds were 50-1, 70-1, 9-2, and 29-1 for the top four horses.
We still don’t know how someone came up with the numbers 10, 18, 12, and 17. Kids ages? Birthdays? Throw out the inside numbers?
Kentucky Derby fun facts
Triple Crown winner Secretariat (1973) still holds the record for the fastest time at 1:59.40.
Three fillies have won the Derby:
- Winning Colors in 1988
- Genuine Risk in 1980
- Regret in 1915
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has Medina Spirit in this Derby, guided the last two Triple Crown champions.
Post position 17 has never produced a Kentucky Derby winner. That spot belongs to Highly Motivated this year. And he has a shot with 10-1 odds.
The first leg of the Triple Crown
The Kentucky Derby is the opening leg of racing’s Triple Crown, which includes the Preakness Stakes (May 15) and the Belmont Stakes (June 5).
There have been 13 Triple Crown winners, including two in recent years. American Pharoah broke a 37-year dry spell in 2015, becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
American Pharoah’s Derby appearance prompted the all-time attendance record of 170,513. After the pandemic dropped the total to roughly 22,500 in 2020, 45,000 fans will be allowed in this year.
Post-pandemic, the Derby will eventually reclaim six-figure attendance.
DraftKings free Kentucky Derby pool
DraftKings is offering a nice $100,000 Kentucky Derby free-to-play contest in its pools section. Answer several questions and try for the $5,000 top individual prize. The sportsbook intends to obtain a bigger presence in major races by next year.
While that process with state regulators ensues, it has reached out to the players. More than 50,000 people have already signed up to take a shot.
William Hill will be open at Monmouth Park
The William Hill sportsbook will be open at Monmouth Park, which takes Derby bets at its simulcast facility. The racetrack has planned a big weekend around Churchill Downs’ big Friday and Saturday cards.
The William Hill book is open Friday from 10 a.m. to 1.am and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday. Sportsbook wagers can augment the full simulcast horse-racing card starting at 10:30 a.m. both days.
Even though William Hill is not taking Derby bets, the operator shared some betting analysis. Essential Quality is the favorite, but he is not necessarily a lock to produce the winning ticket.
“Essential Quality is not going to be a 6/5 (+120) or even-money favorite, [that heavy of a favorite] is not going to happen this year,” said Paul Bach, bookmaker for William Hill US. “It’s not a great field from top to bottom, but there are maybe 10 horses, for sure five, that can beat Essential Quality.”
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel