Betting the Derby for Beginners

Starting from scratch? We've got just the ticket to get you placing your first ticket

Understanding the Kentucky Derby 🌹

Welcome to horse racing! You're here just in time for the main event. Pull up a chair and learn the basics of how to bet the Kentucky Derby!

First off, why is the Kentucky Derby so important anyway? For one, it's the oldest continuously held major sporting event in the US, and it's celebrating its 150th running this year! For another, it's the start to the American Triple Crown (made up of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes & Belmont Stakes), a race series won by such famous horses as Secretariat and Seattle Slew. It's known as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports", and is also famous for the possibility of winning life changing amounts of money by gambling on it. We love betting on our favorite horse, and we think you will too!

Horse Racing Basics

If you've got the time, we've got a Betting 101, and even a Handicapping 101 to give you a proper rundown of how to bet and pick winners. But if you just want action now, keep reading!


  • Win bets: just like it sounds, who do you think will win. Can bet almost any amount, starting at $2
  • Place & Show bets: Place bets are the horse who finishes second, and show bets pick the third place horse. You can also bet WPS, WP, WS, SP, or any other combo you can think of!
  • Exacta bets: you pick the horses that finish first and second, in order. You can double up your bet, or 'box' it and then it doesn't matter which order the two horses finish. Boxing also increases the cost of the wager
  • Trifecta: same principle as an exacta, you pick the horses that finish first, second & third, in order. You can also box trifectas

Navigating Our Platform

Now you've got a handle on what the bet types are, let's dive into the Wager Pad. Below we've got screenshots of the first three horses in the Kentucky Derby, on our desktop site, and on mobile.


  • The colorful squares are the horse's 'post position', or the order that they will line up in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May
  • The green/bold text is the horse's name, followed by some info about him. Using the top horse as an example, we see that his name is Dornoch, and he is a three-year-old bay colt (3 B c), and that he will be carrying 126 lbs on Derby Day (and that includes his lightweight jockey and all his gear!)
  • In the center on desktop, there is more information about the horse and his 'connections'. First there is the father of the horse, then the mother. Next line is the horse trainer and jockey, followed by the owners. We can see that Dornoch's dad is a stallion named Good Magic, and his mother is a mare named Puca (fun fact to impress your friends - Mage, the 2023 Derby winner is a full brother to Dornoch!). Next we see that Danny Gargan is Dornoch's trainer, and Luis Saez will be his jockey in the Derby. Finally, he is owned by a group that included West Paces Racing, etc
  • On the far right, there are two numbers. The bold number is the current odds, and the second number is the Morning Line Odds. Short version of ML odds is that those are the track's best guess at what the final odds will be. As you can see, the desktop version of Dornoch & Mystik Dan's odds is different, as the screenshots were taken at different times, and this is because odds in racing vary based on how much money is bet on each horse. The more money that is bet on a horse, the lower the odds become
  • Finally, we see a TM 👍 beneath Dornoch's name, which means he is a TrackMaster selection. You can scroll to the bottom to learn more about why he was picked.
Derby150 Contenders
Derby150 Contenders_mobile

Betting on the Derby

Ready to bet the Derby? You've got your best bet types, and you've picked your favorite horse? We love that, let's get after it!

Next - how much are gonna spend? Minimum win bet (as you know) is $2, but you can go as low as $.50 cents for a trifecta if you are feeling fancy. It's best to set a budget for the day or race, and stick to it.

When are you going to place your bets? Technically, you can already bet on the Kentucky Derby, but remember, the odds will continue changing right up until the race starts. We do advise you log in, make your deposits, and do your betting before the action gets too crazy. No one wants to get shut out on Derby Day!

Bonuses and Promotions

Now we get to the good stuff, how to win bonuses with NYRA Bets. You are in luck, because we have a few guaranteed ways to get a return on your betting this year:

  • Get a Guaranteed Belmont Stakes Bet - simply bet $25 on the Derby, $25 on the Preakness 9in two weeks!), and get a $10 bet for the final leg of the Triple Crown!
  • $30 Bonus, Win or Lose: Derby bettors have big pockets, so we are offering them a shot to top up their Derby Day bankroll with a $30 Bonus on Kentucky Oaks Friday
  • $50 Bonus, Win or Lose: Bet the best races at Churchill Downs and Belmont at the Big A for a bonus!

All of our Promotions are open to everyone, but you must Opt-In to register!