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2019 Kentucky Derby Betting Trends and Facts

The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs is on tap on Saturday and it is once again time to dig into betting trends and facts for the first jewel of the Triple Crown, looking for a few nuggets that might help us find the winner.

Last year Justify ended one of the longest running trends, becoming the first Derby winner since Apollo in 1882 to have not raced as a two-year-old. The Bob Baffert trainee went on to become the 13th Triple Crown winner and second in four years to sweep the three classics.

Picking the winner in a field of 20 and padding the bankroll can buy you plenty of Mint Juleps on the first Saturday of May.

Bet on the 2019 Kentucky Derby here!

Let’s take a look at a few Derby betting trends:

  • The betting favorite has now won the race six years in a row. The previous high was four in a row from 1972 to 1975. The average win payout during this run is $8.90 for a $2 wager.
  • Starting with Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, the favorite has now won 10 times in the last 19 years. From 1980 to 1999 no Derby favorite won, a span of 20 years of beaten favorites.
  • The shortest price winning favorite in the Kentucky Derby since 1960 was Seattle Slew, who returned just $3.00 to win in 1977. During the run of favorites, the past six years the lowest payoff was Nyquist at $6.60 in 2016.
  • While favorites have dominated in recent years, we have seen two $100+ winners in the past 14 years — Giacomo in 2005 paying $102.60 and Mine That Bird who returned his backers $103.20 in 2009.
  • The record for a $2 payoff was in 1913, Donerail returning $184.90.
  • The highest exacta payoff in history was in 2005, Giacomo (50-1) and Closing Argument (71-1) combining for a $2 payoff of $9,814.80.
  • Despite the favorite winning the past six years the exacta payoffs during that time have still been fairly generous—$69.60, $336.20, $30.60, $72.80, $340,00, and 981.60.
  • The $1 superfecta with Giacomo-Closing Argument-Afleet Alex-Don’t Get Mad in 2005 paid a record $864,253.80.
  • Last year Justify became the first Derby winner since Apollo in 1882 to have not raced as a two-year-old.
  • Seven of the last nine Derby winners had at least three starts as a two-year-old. The lone exceptions were Animal Kingdom (2011) and Always Dreaming (2017), who each started twice as a juvenile, and Justify last year.
  • The record of horses in the Derby without a race as a two-year-old since 1937 is 63-1-3-5.
  • Nyquist (2016) became just the second horse to win both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Run for the Roses. Street Sense ended the “Juvenile Jinx” in 2007. Game Winner looks to make it three this year.
  • Since Seattle Slew in 1977, we have had five undefeated horses win the Kentucky Derby — Smarty Jones (2004), Barbaro (2006), Big Brown (2008), Nyquist (2016) and Justify (2018).
  • The last time the winning margin was less than a half-length in the Kentucky Derby was in 1999 when Charismatic won by a neck. The last time the Derby was decided by a nose was Grindstone in 1996.
  • Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) was the biggest auction price among Derby winners at $4 million. Among the recent Derby winners that were bargains include I’ll Have Another ($11,000), Mine That Bird ($9,500) and Real Quiet ($17,000).
  • The last winner to take the Derby field gate-to-wire was War Emblem in 2002. Before that, it was the filly Winning Colors in 1988.
  • The last eight Derby winners all won their final prep race. The last not to win their final prep was Super Saver in 2010 who was beaten by just a neck in the Arkansas Derby (G2).
  • The Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park has produced the most winners with 24. Next is the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland at 23. 
  • Over the past decade, The Santa Anita Derby and Florida Derby have each produced three winners, the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park two.
  • Horses racing outside of North America in their last start have a record of 46-2-1-0 since 1967. The two winners were Canonero (1971) who raced in Venezuela and Bold Forbes (1976) who raced in Puerto Rico.
  • Horses that made their last start in Dubai are 0 for 13 with no in the money finishes.
  • 100 of the 144 runnings of the Kentucky Derby were contested over “fast” tracks. Since 2004 the track was labeled “sloppy” five times including last year.
  • The active trainer with the most wins at five is Bob Baffert. His winners were Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018). Ben Jones leads all trainers in Derby wins with six.
  • Todd Pletcher leads all trainers with 52 Kentucky Derby starters. He saddled the winner in 2010 with Super Saver and Always Dreaming in 2017.
  • Notable active trainers without a Derby win include Steve Asmussen (0 for 19), Mike Maker (0 for 10), Dale Romans (0 for 10) and Bill Mott (0 for 8).
  • Three active jockeys have won the Derby three times, Kent Desormeaux (3-for-22), Calvin Borel (3-for-12) and Victor Espinoza (3-for-10).
  • Notable jockeys still seeking a Derby win include Corey Nakatani (0 for 18), Javier Castellano (0 for 12), Julien Leparoux (0 for 10) and Jose Ortiz (0 for 4).

Handicapper Michael Dempsey will be covering the Triple Crown for Odds Shark and his full card reports with selections, analysis, fair odds line and wagering recommendations for major tracks can be found daily at turfnsport.com.