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How I'd Bet $100 On The Kentucky Derby

By Kevin Martin

After many months of analysis, it’s time for everyone to make their picks for the Kentucky Derby. I have been high on both Goldencents and Revolutionary for a few weeks and find no reason to jump ship now.

The post position draw benefited Revolutionary. He drew the three post and will get a ground saving rail trip with three-time Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel aboard. He will need some racing luck coming off the pace, but he has shown the heart and ability to fight through and pass horses when it matters.

Goldencents was hurt a bit by the draw with post eight. He will be pressured from speed horses who drew to his outside. While that isn’t ideal, I don’t think the pace will be suicidal, so I will keep him as my second choice. I think he has a chance to win, but give the slight edge to Revolutionary. The race favorite, Orb, and late closer, Java’s War round out my top four.

Kentucky Derby Preview: A Solid Field Of Colts

I am totally against Verrazano, the morning line second choice in the betting. Sure, he is undefeated but he is also unseasoned and has yet to face any adversity in his four race career. There will be value in keeping him off exotic tickets as I don’t see him finishing in the top four.

Top four selections for 139th Kentucky Derby:

  1. Revolutionary
  2. Goldencents
  3. Orb
  4. Java’s War

How I will bet a $100 bankroll

The simplest way to cash a ticket is to bet the winner, so I will invest half of my $100 bankroll on Revolutionary to win. He is 10 to 1 on the morning line but it’s likely he will go off at odds closer to 8 to 1. A $50 win bet on Revolutionary will return at least $400.

I will hedge a bit with an exacta box that includes my top four picks. An exacta box means if any of my four picks finish first and second in any order, I win the bet. Boxing four horses equals twelve combinations so a $2 bet will cost $24 (12 bets x $2).

My other bet will be a trifecta (top three finishers) and is a little more complicated. In the trifecta, I am keying my top two selections in the win position and picking a total of six horses to finish second or third. That means if Revolutionary or Goldencents win, and any combination of the six horses I picked behind them finish second and third, I win the bet. This bet is forty different combinations but we can play it for .50 cents so the bet will cost $20 (.50 x 40). In addition to my top four picks, I will include Normandy Invasion and Will Take Charge in the second and third position of the bet.

Summary of bets with program numbers

$50 win on Revolutionary (3)

$2 Exacta Box

Revolutionary (3), Goldencents (8), Orb (16), Java’s War (19),
How to ask for the bet: “Churchill Downs race number 11, $2 exacta box, 3, 8, 16, 19”. Total cost: $24

.50 Trifecta

1st place: Revolutionary (3), Goldencents (8)
2nd place and 3rd place: Revolutionary (3), Goldencents (8), Normandy Invasion (5), Orb (16), Will Take Charge (17), Java’s War (19)
How to ask for the bet: “Churchill Downs race number 11, .50 trifecta, 3,8 with 3,8,5,16,17,19 with 3,8,5,16,17,19”. Total cost: $20

Total = $94

That leaves me $4 for beer and $2 for bus fare in case my picks whiff. Good luck!

Of course, its more fun to make your own picks, you can learn do that at Hello Race Fans. You can also see a rundown of all the starters with their annual Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet.

Kevin Martin is the founder of the thoroughbred racing history site Colin's Ghost and a contributing editor at Hello Race Fans

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