Are you betting on the Kentucky Derby for the first time? Don’t know a quinella from an exacta? Keep reading for three mistakes first time Kentucky Derby bettors make and how to avoid them.
3 Mistakes 1st Time Kentucky Derby Bettors Make
1. Overthinking the Kentucky Derby
This is easily the biggest mistake all first time Kentucky Derby bettors make. Because there’s so much attention paid to human connections, the horses, and the name of the race, first time Derby bettors forget that at the end of the day, the Kentucky Derby is a horse race.
The same things that determine the winner of a $5,000 claimer at Turf Paradise are the things that determine who wins the Kentucky Derby: speed, pace, and trip.
2. Speed trap
First time Kentucky Derby bettors tend to look at speed figures and believe they’re the end all and be all on the first Saturday in May. They’re important, but pedigree and trip trumps speed every time. Trip is what sort of trip the Derby horse is likely to get. The easier the trip, the horse mustn’t run wide, the better the chances for the horse to win.
That’s true not just in the Kentucky Derby. It’s true for any horse race. Pedigree means a lot in the Derby because horses are often bred for either speed or distance. Distance horses will love running 1 ¼ miles. Speed horses might not. Again, speed is important, but first time Derby bettors often place too much importance on speed and speed ratings.
3. Placing too much emphasis on the 1 ¼ mile distance
Like speed, first time Kentucky Derby bettors place too much emphasis on the Derby distance. 1 ¼ miles, the “classic” distance in American racing, is foreign to every horse that enters because almost no three-year-old runs 1 ¼ miles until they run in the Kentucky Derby or Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Most first time Derby bettors believe that the longer the distance, the better it is for closers. On one hand, that can be correct. Orb, Giacomo, and Mine That Bird all won the Derby from the clouds. However, all three closed into incredibly fast paces. The front runners were blazing up front in all three of those Derbies.
The past five Derby winners have been front running pressers. California Chrome sat less than 2 lengths behind Uncle Sigh and Chitu in the 2014 Derby, American Phaorah sat around 2 to 3 lengths behind Dortmund and Firing Line in 2015 while in 2016, Nyquist was almost on the lead. Always Dreaming was practically on the lead in 2017. Same for Justify in 2018.
Pace is what makes the race, not speed, and although distance means something, it doesn’t matter if the horse on a slow pace is the best horse in the race. Those same things that apply to every race, every day, all over the world, also applies to the Kentucky Derby.
First time Kentucky Derby bettors should forget so much about speed and distance and think in terms of pace. Don’t overthink the Kentucky Derby it’s still a horse race. The horses that get the best trips, that haven’t run into any trouble, have won the past five Derbies. Those horses have also run close to fast, but not superfast, paces. If first time Derby bettors handicap the Run for the Roses like it’s any other horse race think in terms of trip and pace, they might cash.