How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby from Home

Country House (left) before winning the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
Country House (left) before winning the 2019 Kentucky Derby. (John Voorhees/Eclipse Sportswire)

It’s been a tough year for sports. Even now that the NBA, NHL, and MLB have returned, the games haven’t been quite as exciting (understandably) as in normal years. Let’s say you’re in one of the few states that allows betting on sports. You might be inclined to put a few bucks down on the Los Angeles Lakers or the Boston Bruins — just to spice things up. But let’s be honest, there’s only so much excitement you’re going to get out of turning $5 into $10 (if you’re lucky).

Want real action and the potential to make a massive score while betting on the most exciting two minutes in sports? Well, the Kentucky Derby is where it’s at … and you can bet on it from just about anywhere on Saturday, Sept. 5.

A Betting Extravaganza Unlike Any Other

If you’d taken that same $5 and bet it on last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Country House, you would’ve collected $331. Sure, longshots like Country House don’t win every year, but there’s a whole menu for betting on horse racing that includes exactas (picking the first- and second-place finishers), trifectas (picking the top three) and superfectas (the top four). In Kentucky Derbys past, those bets have routinely returned anywhere from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars — and we’re just talking about the returns on base $1 or $2 bets.

Play From Home: Derby Betting is Easy (and Legal) on Your Phone or Computer

So how do you get in on the action? If you haven’t bet on racing before, start off with a quick online search for what racing folks call an ADW. This refers to an advance-deposit wagering account. That’s just fancy-talk for a website where you can legally bet on horse racing.

The term “legally” is key too because some people don’t realize that you can bet from home on your computer or on your cell phone when you’re outside — and it can all be done on a well-regulated, safe, and legal betting site.

For the purposes of the Kentucky Derby, a great option for a betting site (especially if you don’t have an account yet) is 1/ST BET. Not only is 1/ST BET a wagering site that’s geared to the new horse bettor, both in the simplicity of its interface and ease of betting – it’s also currently offering a promotion for new players and fans of ABR. When you open a 1/ST BET account right now, you automatically get $10 to play with for free, plus up to $500 back on your first deposit when you use promo code 500ABR.

Our friends at NYRA Bets are also one of the most reliable horse wagering services in the U.S. and are currently offering $25 in free money when you sign up, plus up to $200 back on your first deposit. Use the promo code ABR25. Other trusted wagering sites include TVG and TwinSpires (the Official Betting Site of the Kentucky Derby), and you can find a complete listing of ADWs here.

Derby Betting Tools and Hacks

If this is your very first experience with horse betting, we’d encourage you to check out our Betting on Horse Racing, Explained. There you’ll find quick and easy explanations on all the different bets that you can make on the Kentucky Derby or any other day that you’re playing the races.

As you’re formulating your bets and trying to figure out how much they cost, another super-helpful tool is our Gambling Calculator, presented by 1/ST BET.

As always, you can find endless resources for betting the Kentucky Derby and all Triple Crown races on America’s Best Racing. You can start by clicking the “Triple Crown” tab at the top of this page. You’ll find everything from betting analysis on the Kentucky Derby, a visual slideshow of the contenders, our official Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet, longshots to keep an eye on, and even feature stories on the horses and their jockeys, trainers, and owners.

Don’t Get Shut Out of the Action — Plan Ahead!

How long does it take to activate your account? Literally, just a couple of minutes. Your first login just requires you to enter your name and email address. That’s it! That gets you into the site where you can register, navigate through the site, browse the betting menu, and more.

To load up your account for the Kentucky Derby, click on the “Add Funds” icon at the bottom of the window on 1/ST BET or “Fund Now” on NYRA Bets. On all betting sites, there are usually several options for depositing money into your account. I, personally, utilize the bank transfer option which allows me to directly deposit funds from my checking account and also allows me to immediately withdraw back to that account when I win.

The only holdup with bank transfer/ACH option is that if you’re a new customer, betting sites will usually place a 24-48 hold on your funds before they clear to your account. That could be a pain if you’re reading this on Saturday morning of Kentucky Derby day and need those funds immediately so that you can bet. Alternatively, on 1/ST BET you can also deposit directly from your PayPal account.

Over the years, I’ve found that depositing from a debit/credit card (a third option) is often the fastest and most efficient way to get cash into your account. On the downside, betting sites will often charge a small fee to make card deposits, whereas the bank transfer option is usually free.

If you’re reading this on Friday or Saturday of Kentucky Derby week, depositing with a debit/credit card might be the best way to ensure your funds are available for the big race. Whatever you do, I would recommend contacting the ADW directly if you’re uncertain about anything during the signup and initial deposit process.

Note: Some states do not allow online wagering on horse racing — look up rules and regulations for your state before registering. Most sites will require you to provide proof of residency and age via submission of a state license or ID.

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