Bettors have a chance to get their money down on the 2021 Kentucky Derby as soon as Thursday, as Churchill Downs opens future wagering on the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Betting on Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager – the first of six rounds of early Derby betting – begins on Thanksgiving and runs through late Monday afternoon. Essential Quality, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and presumed 2-year-old champ, is a 10-1 favorite to take down the May 1 Derby among 22 individual interests.
Betting is available at Churchill Downs online wagering portal TwinSpires.com, Amwager or TVG and presumably other Churchill properties, but it was not clear how widely the company is making it available. If you like to wager locally, best check before making a drive.
Churchill also will offer future betting on the Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies the day before the Derby.
The Derby and Oaks futures have a few little twists that may not be familiar if you’ve never played before.
The Derby and Oaks futures:
- 2021 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Win and exacta wagering. Both races offer win and exacta wagering – not place or show bets –choosing from the individual horses selected to Pool 1. A positive result in May will return the odds you locked in way back in November, when other Pool 1 punters may not yet awakened to your horse’s brilliance. Expect a nice payoff, maybe something akin to the $103.60 on a $2 bet that Authentic returned last year to his Pool 1 supporters.
- Winner’s sire. A relatively new addition to the wagering menu, it’s just win betting with a pedigree coating. Last year, players who bet on Into Mischief collected $36.20. Into Mischief also would likely be the favorite if the Derby was tomorrow, but there’s plenty of time for that picture to change.
- The Oaks-Derby Double. Same idea as a Daily Double linking two consecutive races, but this bet runs through the Oaks on Friday and the Derby on Saturday. These bets can be lucrative if either winner is a long shot and offer opportunities to spread if you like a horse in either field.
- Two categorical or proposition wagers are available in the race – the “All 3-year-old fillies” and “All other 3-year-olds” entries – referring to horses that are not among the 22 individually listed horses in Pool 1.”All other 3-year-olds” has come in five times in the last 10 runnings and inevitably goes off as the heavy favorite. It’s listed at 6-5 in Mike Battaglia’s morning line. If you hit this wager, you can expect a payoff of around even money or maybe a few nickels more.
Other horses getting attention from the linemaker include Love is Good, a well-bred colt trained by Bob Baffert who broke his maiden recently at Del Mar, and Highly Motivated, who has won two of three starts for trainer Chad Brown, including the Nyquist Stakes at Keeneland in his most recent start. Both are listed at 15-1 on the morning line.
Sign up, place first single horse win-type bet, get up to $300 back if your horse doesn’t win.
Kentucky Derby Future Wager Odds
You can check the latest odds and see the other horses included in the first pool of futures betting on the kentuckyderby.com website.
Generally I’m not a fan of the Derby Future Wager.
Yes, some odds are enticing, but the difference between the current price and what you can collect in five months isn’t always as much as you’d expect.
And so much can go wrong in five months. Some top 2-year-olds don’t develop as quickly while transitioning to 3. Other promising youngsters will be sidelined after they are injured or their form tails off.
But that’s nowhere near my biggest issue with the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. This is: Unlike a normal race, where your money is refunded if a horse is withdrawn before the race, the future bet makes no such restitution.
If your horse is injured or doesn’t qualify via the Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby points system or whatever, that’s your hard luck.
To me, that is an almost insurmountable negative that prevents me from investing in the future pools.
That said, I’ve carved out an exception that I might use in the right circumstances:
If I’m expecting a horse to improve and run a strong race and instead he bombs, it may make sense to lock in long odds if bettors overreact to the setback. I still plan on treading lightly if I try this, saving most of my “win” bankroll for racing day and much more certainty on the odds.