If you follow horse racing at all and are interested in placing a bet for the 2013 Kentucky Derby, the next few days are the Mecca of your experience.
The 20-horse field, jockeys and postings are all in after Wednesday's selection draw at Churchill Downs, and that means interested parties are closer than ever to placing their bets for the standout horses currently in play.
What if you're a first-timer, though?
Not everyone is a Kentucky Derby expert that goes to the track to bet, and there are others that might be placing bets elsewhere just looking to make a splash because they like a horse's name or got the itch to put some money on the line.
No matter your connection to the Derby, there's a good chance you might throw caution to the wind when you find a horse you think is going to win the Derby. In the spirit of avoiding a big mistake if you spread your wealth thin or are betting it all on one horse, here's a look at what not to do when placing your bets for Saturday's 139th Run for the Roses.
*For a complete look at the 2013 Kentucky Derby horses, click here (via KentuckyDerby.com).
2013 Kentucky Derby Odds, Posts and Horse Lineup
|1||Black Onyx ||50-1|
|5||Normandy Invasion ||12-1|
|11||Lines of Battle||30-1|
|15||Charming Kitten ||20-1|
|17||Will Take Charge||20-1|
*Odds courtesy the NBC Sports Network broadcast on Wednesday afternoon, confirmed by DRF.com. Post positions via the Kentucky Derby's official Twitter account.
Mistakes to Avoid on Race Day
Know the Horse, But Know the Jockey More
Everyone who is hip to the field knows that Orb, Verrazano and Goldencents are the three favorites this year—and for good reason. But if you don't know who is jockeying those favorites, your bet loses some serious credibility.
If you don't know names like Mike Smith, Edgar Prado, Calvin Borel and John Velazquez, you should—the quartet has combined for six of the last eight Kentucky Derby wins.
To make things more important, each of these jockeys has the kind of big-time experience you need to win at the track. The horse is always important to the win, and you'll never see a jockey take full credit for getting the most out of a horse in the final furlongs.
If horses could talk, though, they'd appreciate what jockeys do to know when to start making that late push, how to approach the starting gate and how to stay as close to another horse as possible without stumbling and making a fatal mistake.
Rookie and young jockeys often have a hard time with the six-figure crowds and bright lights of the Derby, and that makes having a jockey with experience and pedigree of his own very important. Before you fall in love with a horse after watching a workout or looking at his resume, check and see who will be on his back on race day.
Don't Fall in Love With the Favorite
Along those same lines, you should respect the field more than the favorite.
With 19 other competitors in the race, there are so many variables affecting the outcome of the finish. Between the horses that are built for a longer race, and others that are geared up for the dirt track after performing on it all season, favorites might not have the best overall shot at winning the longest race of the year so far.
History agrees with that statement.
While favorites usually find a way to be in the money, taking them as the odds-on favorite has not been fortuitous in recent years. In fact, three of the last four races have featured a dark-horse, sleeper-type horse winning the event, including I'll Have Another (15-1) last year and Mine that Bird (50-1) in 2009.
It's always safer to pick the favorite, but not always going to net you any money when the race is over. Be careful this year with a huge bet on Orb or Verrazano, and be sure that's who you really think is going to win before betting your money.
Be Skeptical of the Inside Post
The inside post doesn't have the prestige that it quite used to.
Sure the breakdown of wins by post would lead one to believe that every horse in this race wants to be in either the five or one post (12 wins by Derby horses in each spot in 138 years).
Three of the last five winners have come from an outside post, and that includes two straight wins from the No. 19 and 16 spots, respectively.
Of course, there are always exceptions.
Borel is one, as all three of his Derby wins have come from an inside post. Some jockeys love to be on the inside, but conventional wisdom doesn't give horses who are on the innermost post the advantage they once got from that draw.
Maybe more than anything else this weekend, enjoy the race. That's what it's all about, and you don't want to be stressing about posts, horses and times when things kick off on Saturday afternoon. Do your research, keep these ideas in mind and then make your picks. Hopefully things work out in your favor.
If not, there's always next year.
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