Betting wants to help decipher betting on the Kentucky Derby. The Run for the Roses marks the beginning of Triple Crown season, which creates a massive amount of interest track-side and online. With this rise in interest, let us help in Kentucky Derby betting. The most popular bet remains a straight bet on the winning horse, but there are so many other ways to stretch your money. Let’s walk through some of the simple bet types, and the complex parlays at the track.


A straight bet is, as the name implies, extremely straightforward. You bet on a single horse generating a single outcome. Unlike other sports, you can bet on the top-3 finishers as opposed to just the winner. Here are the basic, straight bet types.

Win – The horse must finish 1st.

Place – The horse must finish 1st or 2nd.

Show – The horse must finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

Obviously, betting on a horse to show gives you reduced odds because of the reduced risk involved but it tends to be a much safer play.


A parlay is a type of bet that requires two or more outcomes, and in the world of horse betting these take on different names. If you want to walk the walk, then you’ll have to talk the talk as well. Here’s what you need to know:

Exacta – Your horses must finish 1st and 2nd in a specified order. This makes the bet much harder to win but also greatly increases the odds of your bet.

Trifecta – Your horses must finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in exact order.

Superfecta – Your select four horses that must finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in exact order. Of all the exotic bets on the table, this is by far the most difficult to win and usually costs the most. As they say – the higher the risk, the higher the reward. This is not for the faint of heart.

These bets are generally more difficult to win than straight bets, especially with the sepcificied outcomes. There is, however, a work around where you can group several horses in the Kentucky Derby and bet on them. This is known as abox.

An example would be a trifecta box, where you are selecting the horses that will finish in the top-3 (1st, 2nd, 3rd in no particular order). Boxes are more expensive because you are essentially placing three show bets, but they are way of mitigating risk while increasing your chances of a big payout.

These are the basics for betting the Kentucky Derby. How you spend your money on race day is completely up to you. Either spread it around on a couple different boxes, or go big with a straight bet for a chance to rule them all. We’ll see you at the finish line.

Read more on how to handicap your bets here.