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2018 Kentucky Derby Betting Trends and Facts

The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) is upon us and it is time to take our yearly look at betting trends and facts that might lead us to the winner and a nice payoff.

History tends to repeat in the Kentucky Derby, and this is a pivotal year in that regard. One of the most talked-about trends is the fact that no Derby winner since 1882 has won the race without at least one start as a two-year-old. Two of the main contenders, Justify and Magnum Moon, are looking to buck that trend this year.

We dug deep into the history books and old copies of The Daily Racing Form to come up with this year’s Kentucky Derby betting trends and facts:

Bet on the 2018 Kentucky Derby here!

  • The betting favorite has now won the race five years in a row. The previous high was four in a row from 1972 to 1975.
  • Nine of the last 32 favorites have won the race, a 28% win clip. 17 of the 32 landed in the money (53%).
  • From 1980 to 1999 no Derby favorite won, a span of 20 years of beaten favorites.
  • Since 1900, post position #5 has produced 14 winners – the most of any position.
  • The shortest price winning favorite in the Kentucky Derby since 1960 was Seattle Slew, who returned just $3.00 to win in 1977.
  • While favorites have dominated in recent years, we have seen two recent $100+ winners — Giacomo in 2005 paying $102.60 and Mine That Bird who returned his backers $103.20 in 2009.
  • While the favorites won the last five years, the exotics still paid well. The last five exactas with the favorites winning paid $336, $31, $75, $340 and $982.
  • The highest exacta payoff ever was in 2005, Giacomo and Closing Argument combining for a $2 payoff of $9,814.80.
  • The $1 superfecta with Giacomo-Closing Argument-Afleet Alex-Don’t Get Mad in 2005 paid a record $864,253.80.
  • 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.
  • The last six Derby winners have had at least five total starts, California Chrome with the most with 10.
  • Apollo, who won the 1882 edition, is the only winner not to have raced as a two-year-old. 61 horses have tried it since 1937, none winning. Bodemeister did run second in 2012 and last year Battle of Midway was third.
  • The record of horses in the Derby without a race as a two-year-old since 1937 is 61-0-3-5. Justify and Magnum Moon attempt to break the Apollo Curse this year.
  • 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. Good Magic looks to make it three this year.
  • Since Seattle Slew in 1977, we have had four undefeated horses win the Kentucky Derby — Smarty Jones (2004), Barbaro (2006), Big Brown (2008) and Nyquist (2016). Justify and Magnum Moon come into this year’s edition undefeated.
  • 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). Mendelssohn is this year’s pricey contender, sold at auction for $3 million.
  • The Florida Derby is the leading prep, producing 24 winners including the last two. Other key races are the Blue Grass (23), Champagne (23), Hopeful (20) and Wood (20). Horses exiting the UAE Derby, won by Mendelssohn this year, are 0-for-13.
  • 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 seven Derby winners all won their final prep race. The last not to was Super Saver in 2010 who was beaten just a neck in the Arkansas Derby (G2).
  • The two active trainers with the most wins at four are Bob Baffert with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), War Emblem (2002) and American Pharoah (2015) and D. Wayne Lukas who saddled Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996) and Charismatic (1999). They both have starters this year.
  • Lukas and Todd Pletcher lead all trainers in total number of Derby starters with 48. Pletcher has won twice, with Super Saver (2010) and Always Dreaming (2017).
  • Steve Asmussen leads all active trainers in most starters without a Derby win (18-0-2-2).
  • Four active jockeys each have three Derby wins — Gary Stevens (3-for-22), Kent Desormeaux (3-for-21), Calvin Borel (3-for-12) and Victor Espinoza (3-for-9).
  • The active jockey with the most mounts without a Derby victory is Corey Nakatani (0-for-18).

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