Here's Absolutely Everything You Need to Know Before Betting on the 2018 Kentucky Derby

A Churchill Downs racing analyst reveals how to win big on Saturday.
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(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Kevin Kerstein is a racing analyst at Churchill Downs Racetrack, home of this Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Before getting that gig seven years ago, Kevin clocked and scouted countless horses during their morning workouts for a private company.

So who better to ask how to win big at the 2018 Derby? Read on for this horse racing honcho's top tips:

12 Important Betting Tips

1. Don't be afraid to bet on the favorite.
In 142 years, the favorite has won 55 times or 38% of the time. In fact, the favorite has taken home the trophy for the last four years.

2. Pay attention to the horses that won the Derby prep races.
The last six Derby winners won their final prep race leading up to Derby. 

3. Unlike casinos where odds are set by the house, horses' odds reflect how people are actually betting.
It's the majority's opinion, not the racetrack's.

4. It's fun to bet your own opinion but compare your picks with the track handicapper’s selection to see if they match up.
It's always a good idea.

5. Just like regular sports teams, horses have a home field advantage. 
Bet the horse that has a history of doing well at Churchill Downs. This information is located in the top right of each horse's past performance in the program. 

6. Watch the horses in the paddock.
It they're misbehaving, exuding too much energy or fighting their jockey, it's probably best to not bet that horse.

7. Always go with your gut. 
Nothing's as painful as watching your original choice win the race after you changed your bet.

8. Never believe a backsider's tip.
No trainer enters their horse in a race if they don't think their horse can win it.

9. If you can't decide between 2 horses, try an exacta box.
If those two horses finish first or second in any order you win the bet. The minimum for an exacta is $2.

10. Next to each horse’s information in the program is a speed figure.
The higher the speed figure, the higher the potential of winning. Download your program here.

11. There are 175,000 people at the Derby. If you don't want to wait in line to wager, download the app and bet from your seat or at home.
Always a solid plan if you want to avoid the crowds.

12. You can bet on 14 races on Derby day, but set your wagering budget before your second mint julep.
Just to be on the safe side...

3 Horses to Watch at the 2018 Kentucky Derby

(Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

(Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

1. Justify – Will attempt to break the curse of Apollo

  • No horse has won the Kentucky Derby when they did not race as a 2-year-old. However, Justify is one of the Derby favorites after three impressive victories to start his career

2. Mendelssohn – The international superstar

  • Based in Ireland, the $3 million purchase enters the Derby with a 18-length victory in the UAE Derby in Dubai

3. Lone Sailor – The sentimental favorite for the city of New Orleans

  • Lone Sailor will ride the colors of the “Big Easy” in the Kentucky Derby as he shares the same ownership as the New Orleans Pelicans and Saints
(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

How to calculate how much you’ll win based on the odds using a $2 bet.

If the odds are "to 1" (like 3 – 1 or 4 – 1):

  • Double the odds and add your $2 bet
  • So if the odds are 3 – 1, double the 3 and add your $2 bet for a payout of $8. If they are 4 – 1, double the 4 and add your $2 bet for a payout of $10

If the odd are "to 2" (like 7 – 2)

  • Just add your $2 bet
  • So if the odd are 7-2, your payout is $9. If the odds are 5-2, your payout is $7

If the odds are "to 5" (like 8-5): 

  • This one is a little more complicated, but easy once you get it
  • For 8 – 5 odds:
    1. Double the odds = 16 - 10
    2. Divide by 10 = 1.6 – 1
    3. Double = 3.2
    4. Add your $2 bet and you get a payout of $5.20