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The Kentucky Derby is among the most exciting horse races in the world and is the oldest continuously-running sports event in America. Scheduled for Saturday, May 6, the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1) is a chance for hardcore bettors, horse racing fans, and novices to all cash a big ticket, and perhaps no bet is more popular than the trifecta.
Beginning in 2000, the trifecta (picking horses to finish 1st, 2nd, & 3rd in the proper order) has paid an average of $13,839.39 for just a $2 base. No other major sports event offers a chance to hit a single bet that pays over 6,900-1 odds like the Kentucky Derby, but picking the correct order isn’t exactly easy.
Using historical trends for the 1st leg of American horse racing’s Triple Crown, we can identify how many long shots you should include in your trifecta ticket and the best place to play them: 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Let’s dive in!
Below are the final odds for the top 3 finishers of the Kentucky Derby dating back to the year 2000, along with the payout for the trifecta using a $2 base:
Note that since Medina Spirit’s 2021 win was disqualified after the race was made official, the payouts reflect the original order of finish prior to the disqualification
Perhaps surprisingly, while Rich Strike’s historic 2022 Kentucky Derby upset win came at odds of over 80/1, it only produced the 3rd-highest trifecta payout in the studied span. This is because the 2nd & 3rd place finishers were the favorite & 3rd choice in the final betting.
Conversely, even when the favorite wins the Kentucky Derby, the trifecta can still pay very well. For example, we hit the 2017 trifecta when Always Dreaming won as the 9/2 favorite, but because all other horses at single-digit odds finished 4th or worse, we cashed for thousands.
2023 Kentucky Derby Pace Thesis | Predicting Race Flow To Pick The Winner
Nine of the past 23 Kentucky Derby trifectas have included 2 horses whose final odds were at least 10/1. Even if you think that a horse with shorter odds will win (like Forte at 3/1), don’t be afraid to use your favorite long shots in the trifecta. You can feel (slightly) comfortable that you didn’t include other horses with single-digit odds (like Angel of Empire at 8/1).
What is the most likely finishing position in the trifecta for a long shot? From the last 23 runnings, the winner’s odds were double digits 10 times, with the place horse having longer odds 13 times and the show horse 9 times. If you’re gung-ho that Tapit Trice at 5/1 will win, but you also like Two Phil’s at 12/1, then you can play multiple trifecta tickets using Two Phil’s in 1st & 2nd and Tapit Trice in 1st & 3rd, then sprinkle in a 3rd horse in the other slots.
Key Post Position Trends & Analysis For The 2023 Kentucky Derby | Big Facts About The Figures!
No matter how you decide to play the 2023 Kentucky Derby, remember 2 important things: never bet more than you can afford to lose & don’t be afraid to make a win bet on your favorite horse. A full field of 20 runners offers 6,840 different trifecta combinations, but there’s just a 1-in-20 chance to pick the winner.
Good luck, have fun, & let us know how you did!
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