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2012 Kentucky Derby: Last-Minute Betting Guide For Beginners

Thinking about plunking down a few of your hard-earned dollars on today's 138th running of the Kentucky Derby, but not really sure how this whole betting on horse racing thing works? Well, if you're a novice to the whole wagering deal we are here to help you.

Our friends at SB Nation have penned a 'How To Bet On The Horses' guide that gives you the terminology, how much you can win based on the odds and what you bet, and much more.

Here is the section on basic terminology:

WIN: A bet on a horse to win (if you don't know this you probably shouldn't be betting)
PLACE: A bet on a horse to finish either 1st or 2nd.
SHOW: A bet on a horse to finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

Those are the standard bets that everybody is familiar with. They are simple, straight forward, it's easy to calculate the cost, and they are easy to make. Where things start to become more complicated is with what are known as the exotic bets. Below are the exotic wagers offered by Churchill Downs this weekend.

EXACTA: A bet picking the 1st and 2nd place finishers in a race.
TRIFECTA: A bet picking the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers in a race.
SUPERFECTA: A bet picking the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishers in a race.
DAILY DOUBLE: A bet picking the winners of two races, usually two consecutive races.
PICK 3: A bet picking the winners of three consecutive races.
PICK 4: A bet picking the winners of four consecutive races.
PICK 5: A bet picking the winners of five consecutive races.
PICK 6: A bet picking the winners of six consecutive races.

There are all sorts of methods for figuring out who you want to put your money on. Veteran bettors will pore over the Daily Racing Form, race charts, odds from a variety of sources, pay attention to past history, track conditions and on and on.

If you are new to this whole racing and wagering deal, you might want a more simplistic approach. We can help you with that, too. Here are some ideas:

  • You want a horse that just stands out in the crowd so you can follow him around the Churchill Downs track easily? Try Hansen, the only white horse in the field. He has 13-1 odds currently.
  • You like the 'colors' system? Meaning, betting based on the colors of the jockey silks? Personally, I think this works as well as anything else. You can find the silks each jockey will wear at
  • Are you from upstate New York? You might want to put some money down on Union Rags, which won a race at Saratoga last summer as a two-year-old.
  • There are some other horses with New York connections, including Trinniberg, Alpha and Gemologist.
Those are just a few ideas. One huge tip, though. No matter what system you employ don't bet the entire month's rent. Please.