05/01/2015 11:34AM

How to bet Kentucky Derby with $50


Let’s say you have $50 that you would like to wager on the best two minutes in sports. How should you break up that money? You could just pick your favorite horse and put all $50 on win, place, or show. In a 20-horse field that’s a fair strategy, since the odds will be good with so many options to bet. However, in a race like the Kentucky Derby it’s fun to mix things up and use that money to play a few different wagers.

Instead, I would recommend playing a win bet on one or two horses, a few small exacta plays, and some trifectas as well. In the exacta, you must pick the winner and second-place finisher in that exact order. The minimum bet is $1, so you might want to play some combinations for $2 with one or two horses on top and three or four in second, and then reverse it for $1 with your top contenders in second and a few other horses on top. Also consider a trifecta, where you must pick the top three finishers in exact order and the minimum wager is 50 cents.

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I think Dortmund is the most likely winner, and as the likely second choice he should offer decent value. I will use my $50 to play him to win and on top of five horses in the exacta, then reverse the exacta for half as much. I will also play a trifecta with him and his uncoupled stablemate, American Pharoah, on top, four horses in the second spot, and seven horses in third. Here’s how I would break up that $50, using specific horses that I like in the race:

  • $20 win on DORTMUND (8), or you could play two $10 wagers on horses that will be higher odds: $20
  • $2 exacta with DORTMUND (8) over CARPE DIEM (2), BOLO (9), FIRING LINE (10), FROSTED (15), AMERICAN PHAROAH (18): $10
  • $1 exacta with CARPE DIEM (2), BOLO (9), FIRING LINE (10), FROSTED (15), AMERICAN PHAROAH (18) over DORTMUND (8): $5
  • $0.50 trifecta with DORTMUND (8) and AMERICAN PHAROAH (18) over DORTMUND (8), BOLO (9), FROSTED (15), and AMERICAN PHAROAH (18) over CARPE DIEM (2), DORTMUND (8), BOLO (9), FIRING LINE (10), FROSTED (15), AMERICAN PHAROAH (18), and UPSTART (19): $15

Hopefully, with some racing luck, we will be able to turn that $50 into a few hundred or more. No matter how you play, though, just sit back and enjoy the race.

:: Closing longshots key for big Derby payouts (DRF Plus)

:: Derby Clocker report: Kentucky Derby favorites looking just fine (DRF Plus)

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:: DRF's Kentucky Derby All-Access package