The Kentucky Derby is a notoriously difficult race to handicap, particularly in a year like this one, with a field that racing insiders say may be one of the best ever.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun trying.
And Churchill Downs has made it easier than ever, with a new TwinSpires.com app you can download. With the app you can bet, watch races and replays and get handicapping information on your mobile device.
While the app is free, to bet you will need a Twin-Spires account, which is an advance-deposit wagering account. You have to have money in the account to bet but it’s simple and fast to transfer from a bank account or deposit money with some credit cards.
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That means if you can’t get to a betting window at Churchill Downs, you can still get a last minute bet down.
And this year, Churchill is introducing a new wager for the spring meet: the Lucky 7. For a 10-cent bet, if you can pick the winners of seven races in row — culminating in the Derby — you can win the jackpot, which gets bigger every day someone doesn’t win the whole bet.
Every day, the Lucky 7 bettors with the most winners will split 70 percent of the pot, but the rest of the money will carry over until there is one — and only one
— perfect winner.
That gives bettors a chance to have some fun, with lots of different combinations, without blowing a ton of cash. And the new bet has drawn some interest.
“We’re off to a pretty solid start,” said John Asher, Churchill Downs spokesman. “Fans love those 10-cent wagers.”
The thought of picking seven winners on any day is daunting, Asher said, and this bet will only pay off big if there is only one winner.
“The rest carries over,” Asher said. “It’s meant to be a big jackpot pool but the 10-cent increment allows it to be a more painless way to play.”
After the first two days of the meet, the jackpot was $3,657, Asher said. “That’s not a huge number but it’s a sign people are paying attention.”
And if nobody wins on Oaks Day, things could get really interesting for Derby, he said.
This is the only 10-cent bet on Derby Day. The “superfecta,” in which you pick the first four in the right order, will be a $1 minimum rather than a 10-cent bet.
The reason for that: to keep the betting lines moving. Ten-cent bettors tend to be more casual fans, and therefore slower, and every window at Churchill Downs on Derby day is busy.
“We don’t want to gum up the lines,” Asher said.