Make Smarter Kentucky Derby Wagers

Posted: Apr 22, 2021 2:03 PM ET Updated: May 1, 2021 11:03 AM ET
Tiz the Law, left, ridden by jockey Manuel Franco and Authentic, ridden by jockey John Velazquez, lead the field as they come out of the final turn during the running of the 146th Kentucky Derby.
Photo By - USA Today

The Kentucky Derby gets "back on track" in 2021 as it returns to its traditional date of the first Saturday in May. The 147th running goes on May 1st, 2021, and retakes its spot as the first leg of the Triple Crown. Last year, the race was bumped to September due to COVID-19.  

Time and place

  • Date: Saturday, May 1, 2021
  • Post time: 7:00 p.m. ET (approximately)
  • Place: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky, United States


It's race day! Horse racing analyst Monique Vág has locked in her favorite picks and predictions — including a long-shot trifecta pick — for the 2021 Kentucky Derby. 


Kentucky Derby odds are available year-round and shift as the race approaches. Essential Quality and Concert Tour are the current favorites but check back often as the 2021 Kentucky Derby odds could see quite a bit of movement over the next few weeks.  


With May 1 closing in, the field of Kentucky Derby horses is just about set. Our experts have analyzed the horses, categorized them as favorites, contenders, and long shots, and given each one a rank.

Post positions

The Kentucky Derby post position draw for this year's race takes place on Tuesday, April 27th, at 11 am ET. It's an important part of Derby week as odds will shift depending on which post position a horse draws. Learn more about how the post draw affects the race with our post position guide.


When it comes to betting, all we really want to know is who won and how much did it pay out. Our Kentucky Derby results guide will be updated with the 2021 winner and payouts as soon as the race concludes. It also contains some historical information into all payouts since 2000 and all 146 Derby winners.

Kentucky Derby for beginners

For many bettors, the first horse racing wager they'll make happens at the Kentucky Derby. And making that first horse racing bet can be confusing! From win-place-show bets to trifectas and superfectas, our how to bet on the Kentucky Derby guide tells you what you need to know before making a bet.


Television coverage of the Kentucky Derby will begin at 12:30 and run until 2:30 pm ET on NBCSN and then switch to NBC from 2:30 to 7:30 pm ET. 

The Kentucky Derby can be streamed on and on the NBC Sports app.


With a history dating back to 1872, the Kentucky Derby has one of the richest traditions of any sporting event in the United States. From mint juleps and grandiose hats, to "My Old Kentucky Home" and, of course, betting, "The Run for the Roses" is the pinnacle event of American horse racing.

147 years and counting

Although the first race wasn't held until 1875, the idea for the event came began three years earlier when Meriwether Lewis Clark traveled to Europe and was inspired by the Epsom Derby and the French Jockey Club. Upon his return, he organized a local club of horse racing fans to form the Louisville Jockey Club. Lewis also convinced his uncles John and Henry Churchill to gift him the land needed to build the racetrack. 

The very first race was held on May 17th, 1985, when the Louisville Jockey Club opened its doors and held the inaugural Kentucky Derby. Fifteen horses ran on that day in front of around 10,000 fans, with Aristides pulling away and becoming the first Kentucky Derby champion. Eight years later, in 1883, the racetrack was officially named Churchill Downs.

Churchill Downs

The Kentucky Derby runs each year at the famed Churchill Downs track in Louisville. It opened in 1875 and has grown into one of the most famous race tracks in the world, being designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. With the infield open, the current capacity of Churchill Downs is almost 170,000.  


The tradition of those fancy Kentucky Derby hats you see each year dates back about as long as the race itself and is rooted in Clark's vision for the event. In the late 1800s, dressing up for races was the norm in Europe but wasn't in the USA. Clark, of course, wanted the race to be a high-class event more like the Epsom Derby than the typical American horse races of the time, so, per, "he used high-class women to recruit his target clientele to attend the race. The event quickly became just as much about the fashion as the racing."

Mint juleps

The mint julep came later but has been the traditional Kentucky Derby beverage for nearly 100 years. The drink was first introduced to the racetrack in 1938 and has grown to the point where almost 120,000 mint juleps are served over the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend. 

Where can I bet on the Kentucky Derby?

While horse racing is legal in just about every jurisdiction, there are some sportsbooks that do not post Derby odds. You can count on several legal horse racing betting sites to wager on the Derby, in those areas where online sports betting is not legal.

Take a look at the best Kentucky Derby betting sites available in your area.

Kentucky Derby FAQs

Popular Content

Covers 25 Years Logo Established in 1995,
Covers is the world
leader in sports
betting information.
Covers is verified safe by: Evalon Logo GPWA Logo GDPR Logo GeoTrust Logo Evalon Logo