Last year’s event was delayed until Sept. 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but residents within Michigan now have more options to place bets on the May 1 race.
Less than a month ago, the Michigan Gaming Control Board approved an order to allow pari-mutuel mobile horse race betting through Xpress Bet. The company joined Churchill Downs Inc. (TwinSpires) and TVG with third-party facilitator agreements with Michigan’s only licensed racetrack, Northville Downs. Those three are among the options available to Michigan bettors.
This year, the derby returns to its traditional spot as the first Triple Crown race. Because of coronavirus, last year's Triple Crown races ran in a different order. Following Saturday's Kentucky Derby, the Preakness will be run on May 15 with the Belmont Stakes taking place on June 5.
Official odds for the 147th Kentucky Derby were released during the post position draw Tuesday. Essential Quality is the 2-1 morning line favorite and will start from the No. 14 post at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Rock Your World was made the 5-1 second choice and will start from the No. 15 slot. Known Agenda was the 6-1 third choice and he'll start from the rail. Hot Rod Charlie has 8-1 odds as the fourth choice starting in the No. 9 slot.Here’s a rundown of some of the bets you can make and who the top favorites are so far.
There are numerous types of bets players can make in addition to picking the winner. Selecting a horse for place means betting on a horse to finish in second or better, while a bet on show is a wager on a horse to finish third or better.
Those are the easiest wagers to understand. There are also bets called exotics. An exacta is a bet on picking the top two finishers. Trifecta is a wager on the top three. Superfecta is selecting the first four. The super high five is picking the top five finishers in a race.
Exotics are similar to parlays, where each part must hit in order for the bet to be graded out a winner. The odds and payouts are high given how difficult exotics can be to pick. In 2020, a $0.10 superfecta netted $792.58 at the 2020 Kentucky Derby with Authentic, Tiz the Law, Mr. Big News and Honor A.P. finishing in the top four.
Essential Quality, the 2-1 favorite, is undefeated, winning all five races entered. His last race was the Grade 2 Blue Grass on April 3 at Keeneland. Essential Quality edged Highly Motivated by a neck to record the victory. Highlight Motivated is listed at 10-1 in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby, starting from the No. 17 slot.
If Essential Quality pulls off the victory, it will be the first Derby win for owner Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, who is 0 for 11 in the race, and jockey Luis Saez who is winless in seven Derby attempts. Saez initially won the 2019 race aboard Maximum Security but was later disqualified. This will also mark the first Derby for trainer Brad Cox.
“(Highly Motivated) was fighting, and I thought we weren’t going to get him,” Saez said after the Blue Grass. “But I always had faith in Essential Quality. He’s a nice horse. No matter how fast or slow the pace, he always wants to be first at the wire.”
Hot Rod Charlie won the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 20 at Fair Grounds by two lengths. This will be the first Derby for Hot Rod Charlie’s stable of owners. Trainer Doug O’Neill has won 2 of 6 Derbys, winning with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Nyquist in 2016. Jockey Flavien Prat is 1 for 3, winning with Country House in 2019.
Hot Rod Charlie is 2-1-2 in his career.
“He doesn’t have to be on the lead,” Prat said after the Louisiana Derby. “He can do anything. He can be a little bit off the pace and will run the same way.”
Michigan launched its mobile sports betting and online casino platforms on Jan. 22.