This year’s Kentucky Derby features a deserving favorite in Essential Quality and a handful of talented and proven 3-year-olds that’ll be nipping at his heels with relatively short odds.
But what about the long shots?
The Derby winner’s circle has, for the most part, been dominated by favorites in recent years. The top betting choice won all six Derbies from 2013 to 2018, and Authentic won last year’s race as the third choice in the field.
But longer shots have had their own success.
Country House — at odds of 65-1 — was declared the Derby winner via disqualification two years ago, the second biggest long shot to win in the race’s history. It wasn’t too long ago that Mine That Bird and Giacomo won at odds of 50-1.
Perhaps another 3-year-old with a big number next to his name on the Churchill Downs tote board will make his way to the winner’s circle Saturday?
That, as the odds would indicate, is a long shot.
A more sure bet is that one of this year’s lesser-touted contenders will end up factoring into the exotic wagering. And picking the right long shot to include in your exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets can lead to a nice payday, even if Essential Quality or one of the other favorites wins the race.
Five of the last eight Derbies have had a top-three finisher with odds of 30-1 or longer. The payout on a $1 trifecta bet in those five races ranged from $1,300 to $11,475. Ten of the past 13 Derbies have resulted in trifecta payouts of more than $1,000 on a $1 ticket, even with favorites winning most of those years and other top betting choices running in the money.
Sneaking a long shot into the superfecta can also pay off big time, obviously. In last year’s Derby, the top three betting choices — Authentic, Tiz the Law and Honor A. P. — all finished in the top four. They were joined by third-place finisher Mr. Big News, a 46-1 shot. A $1 superfecta ticket paid $7,925. The year before that, when Country House won, 14-1 shot Code of Honor finished second, and race favorites Tacitus and Improbable were third and fourth, the $1 superfecta payout was more than $51,000.
So, if you’re betting the Derby on Saturday, take a little chance and throw in a long shot.
Which one (or two, or three) to choose?
Here are five Derby contenders with morning-line odds of 20-1 or longer to keep an eye on.