How to bet on the Kentucky Derby in Illinois

Discover how to bet on the Kentucky Derby in Illinois with our comprehensive guide. Delve into the top Illinois racebooks, explore different bet types, and gain insights from trainer and jockey analyses.

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The Kentucky Derby is not just an iconic horse race—it's a tradition, a spectacle, and for many, an opportunity to place a well-informed wager.

Whether you're watching from the bustling stands of Churchill Downs or from the heart of Illinois horse race betting venues, understanding how to navigate the odds and make smart bets can transform your experience.

Types of bets you can place on the Kentucky Derby

You can place several different types of bets on the Kentucky Derby, including Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta, and more.

  • A Win bet is a simple bet on which horse you think will win the race.
  • A Place bet means that you are betting on a horse to finish in first or second place.
  • A Show bet is a bet on a horse to finish in the top three places.
  • The Exacta bet requires you to predict which horses will come in first and second place in the exact order.
  • A Trifecta bet is akin to an Exacta, but you have to predict the first three horses to finish in the correct order.
  • A Superfecta bet is when you try to predict the first four horses to finish in the correct order.

How to make a bet on the Kentucky Derby

After selecting your horse or horse, you need to place your bet. You can place your bet online using a licensed sports betting platform like TwinSpires or visit several OTBs and racinos throughout the Prairie State borders.

When placing your bet, state the type of bet you want to place, the horse's name, and the amount you wish to wager. Double-check your bet slip before submitting it to avoid any mistakes.

How to handicap the Kentucky Derby in Illinois

Horse racing handicapping is the process of analyzing past performances and data to predict the outcome of a horse race.

Many different strategies can be used in horse racing handicapping, and each Illinois handicapper has their own unique approach. Some of the most famous horse racing handicapping systems include;

Speed figures

Speed figures are a way to measure a horse's performance based on the time it takes to run a race. A higher speed figure indicates a faster performance. Handicappers use speed figures to compare horses and determine which horse is the fastest based on various track conditions, weather, and other factors.

Class analysis

Class analysis involves looking at the level of competition a horse has faced in previous races. A horse that has consistently competed at a high level is more likely to perform well in a lower-level race than a horse that has consistently competed at a lower level.

Pace analysis

Pace analysis involves analyzing a horse's running style and how it will affect the pace of the race. Horses that tend to start fast and run out of gas are known as "pace horses." Horses that start slow and finish strong are known as "closers."

Trainer and Jockey Analysis

Illinois handicappers also consider the horse's trainer and jockey when making their picks. A trainer with a history of success at a particular track or distance may have a better chance of winning. Similarly, a jockey with a strong win record can be a valuable asset to a horse's chances of winning.

Track bias

Track bias refers to the tendencies of a particular track to favor certain running styles or post positions. A handicapper familiar with the track bias can use it to their advantage by selecting horses well-suited to the track conditions.

Betting patterns

Betting patterns can provide valuable insights into which the betting public favors horses.

If a horse is heavily bet, it may indicate that the horse is expected to perform well. Conversely, if a horse is not getting much attention from bettors, it may mean that the horse is not likely to perform well.

10 tips to consider when betting on the Kentucky Derby

  • Do Your Research: Research the horses, their jockeys, trainers, past performances, and track conditions. This data will help you make wiser decisions when placing your bets.
  • Understand the Odds: Learn how to read and understand the odds. The odds represent the probability of a horse winning and the expected payout.
  • Manage Your Bankroll: Set a financial plan for your betting and stick to it. Don't stake more than you can comfortably afford to lose, and avoid chasing losses.
  • Focus on Value: Look for horses with a high probability of winning at good odds. Don't just bet on your favorite because it's your favorite.
  • Consider Different Bet Types: Experiment with different bet types, such as exactas, trifectas, and superfectas. These bets offer higher payouts but require more skill to win.
  • Pay Attention to the Weather: Track conditions can significantly impact a horse's performance. Keep a keen eye on the weather report and adjust your bets accordingly.
  • Watch the Races: Watching the races live or on TV can give you valuable insights into the horses' form and behavior.
  • Bet on Multiple Races: Betting on multiple races can increase your chances of winning and maximize your payouts.
  • Take Advantage of Promotions: Many betting platforms offer promotions and bonuses to new and existing customers. Take advantage of these offers to increase your winnings.
  • Don't Bet with Your Heart: Avoid betting on your favorite horse or jockey just because you like them. Bet with your head and make informed decisions based on the available data.


Where is the Kentucky Derby held?

The Kentucky Derby is held at Churchill Downs in Lexington, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May.

Can I bet on the Kentucky Derby at retail sportsbooks in IL?

Yes, you can bet on the Kentucky Derby at all retail sportsbooks in Illinois.

Which is the best app to bet on the Kentucky Derby in Illinois?

TwinSpires is the best app for betting on the Kentucky Derby in Illinois. TwinSpires is owned by Churchill Downs, a respected name in the horse racing industry.