How to Bet the Kentucky Derby on Different Budgets

Profile Picture: Scott Shapiro

May 2nd, 2019

Last year’s “How to bet the Kentucky Derby on Different Budgets” was well received, so I figured I would run it back for the 2019 Run for the Roses.

After much deliberation I have landed on 2-year-old champion #16 Game Winner as my key horse and top choice for this year’s Derby. The son of Candy Ride has yet to win in two starts this year, but I can forgive both runner-up efforts.

In his first start off the layoff in mid-March, the Gary and Mary West-owned colt lost by a nose to Omaha Beach in the second division of the Rebel Stakes (G2), but it is doubtful Hall of Famer Bob Baffert had him fully cranked off of the 4 1/2-month break. The $110,000 Keeneland September purchase in 2017 came back in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) April 6 and lost by a half-length to stablemate Roadster, but he was wide throughout, involved in the early tussle and still fought on gamely to the wire.

While other Kentucky Derby entrants had to fight their way into the field during the prep season, Game Winner put himself in a good a spot with his win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). I am under the assumption Baffert used his first two races of 2019 to set him up for a prime effort on the first Saturday in May. I will be very surprised if he does not run a big race.

Regardless of your budget I recommend building all wagers around Game Winner.

Since Game Winner is likely to be the favorite or second choice at best, I will avoid a win wager and key him in the exotics instead.

#13 Code of Honor is a colt I have been fond of since his debut at Saratoga, and while I do not think he is fast enough to win, I think he is a major candidate to hit the board.

#8 Tacitus is likely to take plenty of support at the windows, especially with the scratch of Omaha Beach, and makes a ton of sense to run a big race. I’m just not sure he has the turn of foot to win the Derby. Stamina should not be an issue, though, so he makes sense underneath.

Of the horses who should be 20-1 or higher I like #10 Cutting Humor best. He’ll get a class check, but he had troubled voyages in his first two starts of his 3-year-old campaign. When he finally got a clean trip, he was able to win the Sunland Derby (G3) and post a career best 99 Brisnet speed rating. He is worth including.


Here is what I recommend doing on three different budget ranges:

$20 Budget

$3 Exacta 16 with 5+8+10+13 = $12

$1 Trifecta 16 with 8+13 with 5+8+10+13+14 = $8


$100 Budget

$17 Exacta 16 with 8+13 = $34

$10 Exacta 16 with 5+7+10 = $30

$1 Trifecta Wheel 16 with 8+13 with 1+2+5+7+8+10+13+14+19+20 = $18

$1 Trifecta Wheel 16 with 1+2+5+7+8+10+13+14+19+20 with 8+13 = $18


$500 Budget

$50 Exacta 16 with 8+13 = $100

$28 Exacta 16 with 5+7+10 = $84

$5 Trifecta Wheel 16 with 5+8+10+13 with 5+7+8+10+13+14+19+20 = $140

$1 Superfecta Wheel

16 with 8+13 with 5+7+8+10+13 with 1+2+3+5+7+8+10+13+14+17+18+19+20 = $88

$1 Superfecta Wheel

16 with 5+7+8+10+13 with 8+13 with 1+2+3+5+7+8+10+13+14+17+18+19+20 = $88


Good luck on Saturday!