2023 Kentucky Derby Betting Guide: Field Updates

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on May 1, 2023Last Updated on May 15, 2023
Playin USA's betting guide for 2023 Kentucky Derby

It has been 53 years since Dust Storm won the 1970 Kentucky Derby and journalist Hunter S. Thompson introduced the world to his fiendish essay “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.”

Thompson’s essay first appeared in Scanlan’s Monthly and much like the last couple of races, chaos reigned supreme. But despite the number of changes occurring over the past five decades, including the ability to bet on the race in more than 33 states, people still flock to Kentucky on the first Saturday in May.

In Thompson’s essay he wrote:

“Total chaos, no way to see the race, not even the track…nobody cares. Big lines at the outdoor betting windows, then stand back to watch winning numbers flash on the big board, like a giant bingo game.”

Although the image of the Derby has changed significantly, some things, like betting on the Run for the Roses, remain the same. 

When is the 2023 Kentucky Derby

This year, the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby is Saturday at Churchill Downs. As with previous races, the Run for the Roses will be broadcast on NBC, with a post-time of 6:57 p.m. 

Placing a standard bet on the Kentucky Derby 

First things first, placing a bet on the Kentucky Derby is relatively simple. 

For starters, bets fall into two categories: standard and exotic. 

A standard bet is the easiest of the two. Also known as a one-horse bet, this type of wager is a bet on the horse you think will win. If your confidence meter is in the dumps, you can instead try a “place bet.” A place bet means you are confident the horse you pick will finish first or second. 

You can also take things further and place a “show bet.” In this instance, the horse you select must finish first, second or third. But customers should be reminded payouts for place bets and show bets are significantly smaller than a standard one-horse bet.

Placing an exotic bet on the Kentucky Derby

If you want to spice things up, an exotic bet is the way to go. 

Exotic bets mean you’re betting on the order of finish within a specific race. With every additional finishing position, the difficulty and your payday go up. Exotic bets can also be viewed as a type of parlay bet for those looking for a comparable sports betting reference. 

Types of exotic bets include:

  • Exacta: picking the top two finishers in order
  • Trifecta: picking the top three horses in order
  • Superfecta: the top four finishers in order
  • Super Hi-Five: the top five finishes in order

Derby odds by position

The morning line favorite for Saturday’s race is Florida Derby winner Forte at 3-1 odds. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Forte will break from the 15th post position. There will be 20 horses starting. Four scratched this week, Practical Move, Lord Miles, Continuar and Skinner, and will be replaced by Cyclone Mischief, Mandarin Hero and King Russell. No replacement for Skinner has been announced so there are now 19 horses in the field:

      Post, Horse, Jockey, Odds

  1. Hit Show, Manny Franco, 30-1
  2. Verifying, Tyler Gaffalione, 15-1
  3. Two Phil’s, Jareth Loveberry, 12-1
  4. Confidence Game, James Graham, 20-1
  5. Tapit Trice, Luis Saez, 5-1
  6. Kingsbarns, Jose Ortiz, 12-1
  7. Reincarnate, John Velazquez, 50-1
  8. Mage, Javier Castellano, 15-1
  9. SCRATCHED Skinner, Juan Hernandez, 20-1
  10. SCRATCHED Practical Move, Ramon Vazquez, 10-1
  11. Disarm, Joel Rosario, 30-1
  12. Jace’s Road, Florent Geroux, 15-1
  13. Sun Thunder, Brian Hernandez Jr., 50-1
  14. Angel of Empire, Flavien Prat, 8-1
  15. Forte, Irad Ortiz Jr., 3-1
  16. Raise Cain, Gerardo Corrales, 50-1
  17. Derma Sotogake, Christophe Lemaire, 10-1
  18. Rocket Can, Junior Alvarado, 30-1
  19. SCRATCHED Lord Miles, Paco Lopez, 30-1
  20. SCRATCHED Continuar, Ryusei Sakai, 50-1
  21. Cyclone Mischief, Corey Lanerie, 49-1
  22. Mandarin Hero, Kazushi Kimura, 36-1
  23. King Russell, Rafael Bejarano, 55-1

Another Derby longshot winner?

Could we see a repeat of 2022, when 80-1 longshot Rich Strike roared to victory? With a less-than-dominant field this year, it might not be a bad idea to include a longshot in some of your exotic bets.

Rich Strike’s win was the second-biggest upset in Derby history. In 1913, Donerail won with 91-1 odds.

The big upset by Rich Strike last year helped the track set a record for the amount bet during the 14-race program at $273.8 million, a 9% increase over the previous record of $250.9 million in 2019. Betting on the Derby also set a record at $179 million.

Fifty-three years and counting

Thompson was ultimately searching for a face, a representation of the Derby he had seen a thousand times. 

“I saw it, in my head, as the mask of the whiskey gentry — a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis,” Thompson wrote.

Although he ultimately found his representation — by looking in the mirror — I don’t think it would be such an easy task in 2023.

What I know is the Kentucky Derby can be enjoyed by drinking a mint julep, placing a bet — if you’d like — or don’t, and sitting back to watch the fastest two minutes in sports. 

Photo by Jeff Roberson / AP photo; illustrated by Playin USA
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for Playin USA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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