The biggest race of the season in the United States takes place on the first Saturday in May, as the Kentucky Derby is staged.
The huge Grade 1 will signal the start of the Triple Crown season, as a number of talented three-year-olds attempt to become legends and win all three of the prestigious events of the season.
Betting on the Kentucky Derby is hugely popular, as it attracts those that only bet once in a blue moon. However, what trends should gamblers be aware of before making a wager on the race this year?
One of the most important pieces of reading that gamblers should do before making a wager is the form. Most important is the recent form that the horse has been in.
Winning a prep run before the Kentucky Derby is a vital step for many of the leading contenders, as 70% of the previous winners since 1980 have won a prep race before lining up for the Kentucky Derby.
A staggering 29 of the previous 40 winners have won a prep race before the opening Triple Crown event, and it would be no surprise that many of the leading names at the top of the betting have won one.
There are six main prep runs before the Kentucky Derby, and all of them have been won by horses that have a decent chance. Essential Quality won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, Known Agenda won the Florida Derby, and Rock Your World won the Santa Anita Derby.
Bourbonic cause a shock by winning the Wood Memorial, while Super Stock knocked off Concert Tour to win the Arkansas Derby. The winner of the Lexington Stakes was King Fury, whose connections are still hopeful of an entry for the Kentucky Derby.
Another big question that gamblers should ask before laying a bet on the Kentucky Derby is whether they want a jockey that has won the race at Churchill Downs in the past.
There are only two jockeys in the field that will be lining up with wins already under their belt. John Valasquez has won the race on three previous occasions, with all victories being achieved since 2011.
He was also onboard Authentic last year. Victor Espinoza and Calvin Borel have both achieved back-to-back winners in this race since 2009. Mike Smith is the only other jockey to have won the Kentucky Derby.
His first win came in 2005 onboard Giacomo. The jockey needed to wait 13 years before his second success, which dually arrived in 2018 with Triple Crown winner Justify.
Favourites Don’t Always Win
The strike rate of favourites in the Kentucky Derby isn’t as high as many would believe, which may put doubts into the mind of those that are thinking of betting on Essential Quality. Only 50% of the favourites have won the Kentucky Derby since 2009.
Click here to find the current odds the Kentucky Derby right now: twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/odds
Neither of the favourites from the past two years have won the race, as Authentic was priced at 8/1 and Country House was a massive outsider at 65/1.
Justify was the last favourite to win the race in 2018, while fellow Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was the shortest-priced favourite to win the Kentucky Derby since 2009 at odds of 2/1.
The highest-priced favourite to win the race in the past ten years was Orb, who won from 5/1. Bigger-priced selections shouldn’t be discounted immediately, as three of the winners since 2009 have been priced higher than 20/1. Animal Kingdom won at 21/1 in 2011, while Mine That Bird won at 50/1 in 2009.