Sunday, May 19, 2024

How to bet the 2024 Kentucky Derby online, from sign up to your first wager

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The Kentucky Derby is one of the few horse races that brings new horse racing bettors into the fold. But betting on the ponies is a different experience than betting on sports. Fortunately, legal horse racing betting is available in more states than online sports betting — more than 40 total.

We’ll walk you through how to place a bet on the Kentucky Derby — signing up, navigating the (sometimes complicated) platforms, and placing your first bet.

1. Signing up for the Kentucky Derby

First, you’ll need a horse racing betting platform. Most sportsbook apps do not let you bet directly on horse racing. FanDuel is the one exception that does (in some states).

TwinSpires is our preferred partner for the Kentucky Derby. You’ll get $100 in bonus funds for every $400 you wager on the platform, up to $400 in total bonuses with promo code NYPRACING. It’s available in almost 40 states, including many without online sports betting.

Available states: AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, ID, IL, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MT, NH, NY, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY

There are also some quirks by state — in New Jersey for example, you have to use 4NJBets, which is a whitelabeled version of the TVG app.

2. Navigating the platform

Now that you’re signed up, it’s time to start making your way around. Most horse racing apps look the same, with the following elements on each race page:

  • Upcoming races throughout the country on the left side, with a list of featured races (the most popular) and all races in chronological order.
  • The track and all its races that day along the top (and an option to watch the race live)
  • Your available bet types below that
  • The horses for that race, their odds, and some other info like the total money in the betting pool

In the list of horses, from left to right, you’ll see their post position (Flawless Quality is No. 1 in this example), their trainer and jockey below the horse name, and their current odds. Flawless Quality is 12-1 in this screenshot.

But because horse racing uses parimutuel odds, 12-1 may not be the price you get in the end. The odds change based precisely on how much money is bet on this race and into the “win” market, so you could get better than 12-1 or worse than 12-1. You won’t know until the race is over.

When you bet at a sportsbook, your price is locked in and the operator takes on the risk. When you bet horse racing, you’re just betting against other bettors, and the platform takes a cut. You’re not actually betting against FanDuel Racing or TwinSpires.

3. Placing your first bet

OK, it’s time to place your first bet. There are so many options that it would take hours to break them all down piece by piece. So here are a few things to keep in mind when creating a bet.

  • You must change the bet type along that top menu. It’s not like a parlay in sports betting, where the app will create a parlay for you when you add more bets. If you’re on the “to win” menu and you add horses, you’re just betting more horses to win the race.
  • Many bet types are just a way to easily create more wagers at once. You could individually create two different exacta bets (picking the correct top 2 finishers) with the 1-2 horses finishing first or second. Or you can create an “exacta box” that will place both bets at once for you.
  • The bet slip functions pretty similar to how it does at a sportsbook. You add things, it gives you the amount, and you place your bet. But as I detailed above, you won’t actually get your payout until after the race, because the odds change based on how much everyone else is betting.

Let’s start with a “to win” bet. That’s the default option you land on when you enter the race page.

All you need to do is click the “+ win” symbol, and those horses will be added to your bet slip. Change your dollar amount, and click place bet. If you want to bet different amounts on each horse, add them to the bet slip one at a time.

OK, what if you want to bet something a bit more exotic?

Exactas (top 2) and trifectas (top 3) require you to pick the correct finishing order of the winning horses. And a “box” gives you all the possible combinations for the top 3 among your selected horses.

In the example below, I’ve navigated to the Trifecta Box along the top menu, and picked three horses to create that box.

Because the box creates six different combinations, I’m making six bets at 50 cents each, for a total of $3.

So if any of the following finishing orders happen, I’ll win a 50 cent bet.

  • 1-3-4
  • 1-4-3
  • 3-1-4
  • 3-4-1
  • 4-1-3
  • 4-3-1

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