Shortcuts to Improve Your Kentucky Derby Bets

The biggest single determinant of success in the Kentucky Derby may be breeding. Horse bettors, especially those betting on the Run for the Roses, should know this. There are also a number of other factors that can improve one’s wagers on the first race in the Triple Crown series.

Key Points

– The biggest factor in handicapping the Kentucky Derby is a horse’s pedigree.

– It takes some tedious research to pick winners in Triple Crown horse races.

Distance and the Kentucky Derby

For most horses, the mile and a quarter Derby distance is far beyond their level of ability. A thoroughbred’s ability to handle the distance cannot be fully predicted until they attempt it. Their pedigree can provide some insight. 

The likelihood of success is significantly higher for horses that have been bred for success than for horses without a background in endurance. This is especially problematic in the US, where breeding has increasingly prioritized speed at the expense of endurance. 

To put it simply, the majority of horses aren’t built to handle the Derby distance.

Pedigree Analysis

There is plenty of pedigree analysis available when the Triple Crown is about ready to kick off each season. Unfortunately, most of the information isn’t very helpful.

Most bettors prefer to do the research themselves. This way, they feel they can trust the information. It’s like researching Bitcoin as a means of betting on horses. However, to truly comprehend and analyze pedigrees, a bettor needs a lifetime of experience. 

Since the average horse bettor doesn’t have such experience, there are other ways to determine a horse’s pedigree. There are a number of quick ways to determine whether a horse is qualified to be a serious Derby contender or not.


Who’s Your Daddy

A horse’s father, or sire in horse terms, has the biggest impact on whether or not a horse can be a Triple Crown contender. Before you start looking at bets at sportsbooks, look at a horse’s pedigree.

A pedigree resembles a family tree turned on its side when viewed. Every generation has a sire at the top and a dam, the mother, at the bottom. You should first examine the sire. Is he a horse you know? 

Whether you are familiar with the thoroughbred or not, a quick Google search will provide you with the information you require. 

You can find whether or not the sire was productive. There will be tons of information related to his racing history. He may have excelled in sprint races (those less than a mile). It’s also possible he was better at the longer races.

Bettors can find information on a horse’s racing record. Did he win a lot of competitive races? If a sire excelled in races that required more endurance, it’s likely his offspring will do the same. It is difficult for a horse to outrun its pedigree.

If horse betting gets too difficult, don’t forget you can pay for handicappers’ picks to get some help. 

Hot Dam & The Kentucky Derby

The dam is next on the list to check. Mares are more difficult to work with because they only have one foal a year compared to a sire’s ability to produce 100. 

Additionally, it happens much more frequently to see a dam who wasn’t a productive racehorse develop into one. It can be more challenging to assess how adept female horses are at distance running because they typically don’t run longer races. 

To find out if they have had success in long races, you should look at their resume. Additionally, you should check to see if any of their previous offspring have achieved success in races that require more endurance. 



It’s also worth going a bit further with the pedigree. The next step in handicapping this Triple Crown race is to consider the father’s side – grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and great-great grandfathers. 

Bettors should consider the same factors as with the sire. Did they themselves have a successful racing career over a distance, for example. Running on certain track surfaces can have an impact as well.

On the dam side, it is the same process as looking at the maternal forefathers. This is crucial because it can be difficult to understand the characteristics of stamina the dam offers. 

You are looking for two things between the dam side and the sire side. If there is more than one sire with a strong stamina background, for example, this horse may be the type of horse that could excel at the longer distance at Churchill Downs.

BOOKIES: Add a racebook to take advantage of the Kentucky Derby!

Breeders’ Cup or Triple Crown Winners

One other factor to look into is whether or not a horse has a pedigree with winners of Triple Crown races or the Breeders’ Cup. Horses that win these types of races are built for stamina. A bettor could assume that offspring would inherit that endurance.

Bettors can also include additional Grade I stakes races that are run over at least nine furlongs. These include races such as the Haskell Invitational, Travers, Donn Handicap, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Santa Anita Handicap, Pacific Classic, and Woodward Stakes. 

Look into how the family tree has performed in such races. This will give some insight into whether a horse is ready for the Kentucky Derby or not.When you’re ready to bet on this year’s Run for the Roses, click here to head over to find all the best odds!


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