Smartest way to bet your Kentucky Derby horse

May 04, 2019 John Mucciolo/

I am a big believer in playing the trifecta in the Kentucky Derby (G1). It is my major play in most years and I have been fortunate enough to have cashed tickets on a few occasions, too.

My approach is, first, finding a key horse that I feel will run a big race and finish in the money. He doesn’t have to be the winner. The three-year-old could be a favorite or a longshot, with the main criteria being that I think that he will make the frame. I then structure my ticket around that animal.

In this year’s Kentucky Derby, Improbable is the horse that I most expect to finish in the top three of the 20 entered. The son of City Zip has never been worse than second in his career, the colt loves Churchill Downs, and he also possesses a great wet-track pedigree. The fact that he is trained by Kentucky Derby-savant Bob Baffert only aids the cause.

The next step is to find a group three of four runners that will also occupy one of the top-three positions. For Saturday, I have personally tabbed Game Winner, War of Will, Code of Honor and Tacitus as my second grouping of contenders.

I have a good level of confidence that at least one of those colts will hit the board on Saturday. That foursome has a combined five prep wins in 2019 and each is handled by astute horsemen with Hall of Fame credentials.

The ‘ALL’ button is a good one to use in the Kentucky Derby when playing the vertical exotics. On many occasions, a horse at sizable odds makes a run to crash the Derby party and spikes the exotics in a major way.

I will play a trifecta with Improbable in the first three legs, using a combination of the aforementioned quartet with him and also clicking the ALL button, as well. 

5 with 1,8,13,16 with ALL = $72

5 with ALL with 1,8,13,16 = $72

1,8,13,16 with 5 with ALL = $72

1,8,13,16 with ALL with 5 = $72

This piece is by no means intended to sway your betting opinion towards my preferred horses. And it is not to discount the chances of the numerous contenders in the field either. It is just an example of how I attack the Kentucky Derby as what I feel is the smartest way to wager on the storied event.

Good Luck!

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