Kentucky Derby 2020: Picks, Predictions, Start Time, Odds, and More

The Kentucky Derby is normally a sign that summer is fast approaching. Given the status of the COVID-19 outbreak at the time, the normal first weekend in May date was not possible. In order to keep the uninterrupted 144-year tradition alive, the start date was moved to today. Post time is at 7:01 (EST).

The normal crowd of celebrities, jet setters, and horse racing fans will also be missing as the capacity 155,000 person grandstands will be empty. However, the race itself still offers all of the usual appeal to even the most casual sports fan or gambler. This year’s field is a total of sixteen horses. A large number of horses by horse racing standards meaning anything can and usually does happen hence the nickname, “The two most exciting minutes in sports.”

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The number of horses and relatively unique distance of one and a quarter miles usually means that handicapping the race is difficult. Meaning even the casual fan may have just as much insight as a seasoned handicapper. Arguably, even playing lucky numbers can be an effective strategy when it comes to the Derby.

This uncertainty also means for large payouts. A $1 superfecta bet (first four horses in exact order) at the 2005 Kentucky derby paid $864,253. While the odds of winning that much are slim, a few dollar wager can still return thousands—all of this making the Derby an inexpensive, fast form of entertainment.

This year’s clear favorite is the number 17 horse, Tiz the Law. But at 3/5 odds (meaning a $5 bet will return $3) combined with the above-outlined uncertainties, the bet is far from automatic. Historically no horse has ever won The Derby from the 17 post position. Given rare things happen, well, rarely, the two scratches both to the inside of Tiz the Law means he is not actually breaking from the 17 post.

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Most gamblers employ a strategy of limiting the odds by making a single large bet. Picking one horse in this race is difficult enough; picking the first four is next to impossible. However, given the cost, $1, and the possibility of a high return, this race is the rare instance where a superfecta bet makes sense.

Gamblers, whether they be card sharks, sports bettors, or play the ponies all have a “system” or a theory they claim works. Given the size and opulence of casinos, that claim is dubious at best. Using what are called “Past Performances” to deduce a simple system of finding the four horses that appear to be able to cover the distance in the least amount of time leads to Tiz the Law, Max Player, Honor A.P., and Thousand Words. Placing the horses in an order that is likely to increase the payout, I’m betting:

  1. Max Player
  2. Tiz the Law
  3. Thousand Words
  4. Honor A.P.

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