05/04/2013 9:19PM

Kentucky Derby wagering second-highest in history

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Tom Keyser
Orb’s Kentucky Derby attracted $130.5 million in wagers.

Total betting on the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday was $130.5 million, according to the race chart, down 2.2 percent from the record total of $133.5 million bet last year but still the second-highest figure of all time.

Betting declined on a soggy day at Churchill in which reported attendance of 151,616 fell 8.3 percent from last year’s reported attendance record of 165,307, a decline that probably cut into Churchill’s on-track wagering figures. In addition, the two largest account-wagering companies in the United States Twinspires.com – owned by Churchill Downs – and TVG, both reported problems in taking bets leading up to the Derby.

[DRF LIVE AT THE KENTUCKY DERBY: News updates, photos, videos]

Nineteen horses ran in this year’s Derby, while 20 horses ran in last year’s edition. Size of field is a significant factor in the amount of money bet on a race, though many variables affect the figure.

Total betting on the 13-race card was $185.4 million, down 1 percent from last year’s record total handle of $187 million, according to the charts, the second-highest total for a Derby card. Last year, Derby handle and total handle set records after jumping double-digit percentages from the 2011 figures.

The total number of runners on this year’s card was 122, compared with 126 last year.

The Kentucky Derby is by far the most heavily bet race in the United States. For comparison, total handle on the 15 Breeders’ Cup races held over two days last November was $126.8 million.

The Derby was won by Orb, the 5.40-to-1 favorite, one of the highest-priced favorites in Derby history. The second choice was Revolutionary, at 6.40-to-1, who finished third. The longshot Golden Soul, 34.50-to-1, finished second, triggering a $981.60 payoff for a $2 exacta and a $6,925.60 payoff for a $2 trifecta.

A $1-million guaranteed pick six ending in the Derby attracted total bets of $1,170,941. The minimum for the Derby pick six is $2. Last year, handle on the pick six was $1.8 million, with a $500,000 guarantee. The forecast of bad weather may have had a significant impact on the amount of money that pick six bettors were willing to wager.