The first Saturday in May, everyone’s favorite time of year. No, not for the change in weather or the impending possibility of ditching work early to go to happy hour on that new rooftop bar. The first Saturday in May is about one thing and one thing only, the world famous Kentucky Derby. As much as horse racing is called a dying industry it is still very much alive come Triple Crown season. The Kentucky Derby has it all, history, celebrities and best of all the chance to make quick & easy money.
For those of you who live in the Tri-State area, there are a few ways you go about placing bets on the big race. Some of you can head over to Belmont racetrack where they host live races and also simulcast the full day of races from the Churchill Downs (the site of the Derby) or, if you’re in NYC, head to the local Off-Track Betting (known affectionately to gamblers as OTB), on 38th and 7th Ave.
I won’t bore you with analysis of the 20 horses and which one I think will win because honeslty picking the Derby winner sometimes is just plain luck. The best example of that is Birdstone, last year’s the 50-1 winner, wish I had that! But in order to bet the Derby one must do it in a smart and knowledgable fashion. So there’s your easy and straightforward bets, Win (coming in 1st), Place (coming in 1st or 2nd, and Show (coming in 1st, 2nd or 3rd.) Pretty simple right? These bets typically don’t pay off that great unless you’re betting the long-shots. I deal with the more exotic bets, known as Exactas and Trifectas. For example, if I believe horse #5 and horse #7 will come in 1st and 2nd place I will place a $1 exacta on 5-7. However, one might ask “well what if horse #7 comes in first and horse #5 comes in 2nd?” Kinda feel shafted there, no ? You had the right two horses but in the wrong order! Not to worry my friends that’s why they invented a little term in horse racing called “Box” meaning your bet goes both ways, just like this girl I know. This type of bet obviously costs more then a regular un-boxed exacta since you’re making another bet, albeit on the same ticket. An exacta box is a great way to play the Derby since you want to put in some of the long-shots with a few of the favorites. I personally did a $1 exacta box with 5 horses, setting me back a measely $20.
The trifecta is exactly how it sounds, you’re betting on 3 horses (or more) to come in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. And remeber if you don’t “box” the bet, you will be stuck with the order that you have on your ticket. I’ll give you another example just because you’re probably hungover from last night. So a guy walks into the OTB and says to the cashier “Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby, $1 trifecta horse #2,horse #5 and horse #7. He goes back to his apartment turns on the Derby and sure enough #5 finishes first, #2 finishes 2nd and #7 finishes third, he’s all excited and goes back to the OTB to pick up his winnings right? WRONG! He didn’t “box” the bet!! Therefore he is relegated to horse #2 finishing first, #5 finishing 2nd and #7 finshing third, you get my drift here people? Just box your damn bets and pay the extra cash so your not kicking yourself when you had the right horses but in the wrong order!
In case you care my bets are on #5,10,11,14,18. The track is going to be sloppy (meaning rain is expected at the Derby), so choose your horses wisely.
Good luck and enjoy the race!!!