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Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and he writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports.

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Top 10 facts and figures for 2019 Kentucky Derby

29 Apr 2019

By Dan Ippolito
There are currently 20 horses in the field for the 2019 Kentucky Derby, along with six bubble horses.

There are currently 20 horses in the field for the 2019 Kentucky Derby, along with six bubble horses. (photo by Flickr)

Break out the funky hats and mint juleps: Post time for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, is this Saturday at 6:50 p.m. ET, when horse racing fans and many others will have their eyes glued to the television for the most exciting two minutes in all of sports.

Today we break down 10 facts and figures to take into account before placing your bets. Odds may shift as the week continues, so be aware of updated odds and payout possibilities. Additionally, we have some advice from Michael Dempsey, a 30-year horse racing handicapper and writer, who created Winners Circle Handicapping Syndicate and the TurfnSport Radio Network.

10. 20
The maximum number of horses that can compete in the Kentucky Derby is 20. Now, some may be scratched before the beginning of the race, so it is likely there will be some changes made to the field as we approach Saturday. There are currently 20 horses in the field for the 2019 Kentucky Derby, along with six bubble horses, who require a scratch to make the field.

9. The favorite has been kind
In this year’s Kentucky Derby, the favorite to win is Omaha Beach at 6-to-1, according to Ladbrokes Sportsbook & Racebook. The favorite has won the Kentucky Derby the last six years, the longest such streak since 1891.

Omaha Beach wasn’t a clear-cut favorite. Game Winner and Maximum Security were previously 5-to-1, and Omaha Beach was sitting at 10-to-1.

8. 13
The most coveted honor in horse racing is the Triple Crown. To obtain this status, the same horse must take home all three major races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

There have been only 13 Triple Crown winners. There was a long drought from 1978, when Affirmed won the Triple Crown, to 2015, when American Pharoah was victorious in all three races. The most recent Triple Crown winner was Justify, just last year.

7. Inside against the outside
Following the history of outside posts in the Kentucky Derby, you may want to avoid horses in posts 17-20. These horses are collectively 3 for 111 since 1930, according to Dempsey, so the odds are most certainly not in their favor.

As for the inside posts, Dempsey told us, “Most trainers do not want the one post, as a horse without a clean break can get into a lot of trouble. But statistically speaking, the one and two posts are just fine.”

6. Curse of the 17 post
The 17-20 posts have struggled overall since 1930, but there is one post that has been consistently striking out. The 17 post is 0 for 39, according to Dempsey.

It would be very interesting to see a popular horse receive post 17 and maybe finally break this winless streak.

5. The wagers
This year seems to have all the ingredients for a large amount of money to be gambled on the Kentucky Derby.

After a rainy day last year, and with a promising forecast for this Saturday, Dempsey expects Churchill Downs to be very happy with the numbers.

“Coming off a Triple Crown year, interest in the race should be high," Dempsey predicted. "In addition, when you have such a wide-open race, it is more attractive to hardcore horseplayers.”

4. Triple Crown threat
Choosing a Triple Crown threat isn’t easy to do before the first of the three races. However, after the Kentucky Derby is run, that winner is usually up against a different field of horses.

“With the races just two weeks apart, most of the top horses that don’t win the Derby don’t come back and instead wait for the Belmont Stakes, or another race if the 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont does not suit them,” said Dempsey.

There may not be a clear favorite entering Saturday’s race, so it's even more difficult to determine who is most likely to have a shot at the Triple Crown.

3. Baffert’s Trio
Bob Baffert, the legendary American trainer, is one of the reasons this year’s Kentucky Derby is so wide open. Baffert has seen five of his horses land in the Kentucky Derby winner's circle, including Triple Crown winners American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018

This year, Baffert has three horses primed for Saturday: Game Winner (7-to-1), Roadster (7-to-1) and Improbable (9-to-1).

While none of these horse are the favorite, because of what Baffert’s horses have been able to accomplish in the past, keep an eye on them Saturday.

Dempsey also sees two other horses rounding out the top bet getters. “I also think Tacitus and Maximum Security will take some action, and that is going to lead to a very wide-open betting race.”

2. The longshots
With such an open race, it could be a year for longshots to come in the money.

“The buzz horses this week have been By My Standards (25-to-1) and War of Will (20-to-1), but Code of Honor (12-to-1), Vekoma (14-to-1), Cutting Humor (20-to-1) and Spinoff (25-to-1) are no slouches,” Dempsey added.

1. Our pick to win
Post positions are a key factor, and since we went to press before Tuesday's post-position draw, it's tough for us to make a clear-cut pick on which horse will prevail. However, we'll side with the favorite Omaha Beach due to the trend of the last few years.

If I was going to avoid picking the favorite and wanted to go with more of a longshot, I would be placing my money on Improbable and putting my trust in the work of one of Baffert's entries.
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