Brandon A. Quick |  Fri 04/05/2018 - 07:30 EDT

2018 Kentucky Derby Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta Strategies

2018 Kentucky Derby Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta Strategies
You can pretty much bet the Derby unlike any other race because it is like any other race. With 20 horses and lots of general interest from relatively uninformed players, the stage is always set for a gargantuan exacta, tri or super.

Preparing for the Play

I’m going to begin with the obvious. If you want to have a successful betting day, you put yourself on better footing by doing some prep work. This means, you need to know who you are betting and why and how you will execute the bet. Since we are talking about exactas, triefectas and superfectas for the 2018 Derby, I’ll frame the discussion around the horses I like and discuss the thinking behind my wagering strategies. 

The Exacta

The most basic of all intra-race exotics, the exacta dictates that we pick the first and second-place finisher in order. This is hard to do, of course, and even harder the way most people play the bet.

The majority of the public wagering on the Kentucky Derby is familiar with the concept of “boxing” wagers. For the uninitiated, this simply means that you’ll pick two or more horses, with the box allowing them to come in either first or second, which really means you are paying for extra combinations.

The exacta is offered for a $1 minimum base bet and the cost of the ticket depends on the number of combinations played. Thus, a $1 box with two horses costs a total of $2 (Horse A with Horse B and Horse B with Horse A). A $1 box with three horses is $6, four horses is $12. In 2017, the $1 exacta returned $168.10 despite 9/2 favorite Always Dreaming winning the race. 

Derby Exacta Picks

The best way to play an exacta – or any exotic bet – is to “wheel” the wager. That’s exactly what I’ll do in my Derby exacta. I like Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic in the top slot, but I’ll spread out in the runner-up position using Flameaway, Audible, Good Magic, Justify, Bolt d’Oro, and Vino Rosso underneath. In this bet, every $1 exacta ticket costs $10. Of course, Good Magic or Bolt d’Oro must win the race, but if I’m right about that, I have five live chances to pair the winner up with another horse underneath. 

My exacta: 6,11 with 4,5,6,7,11,18 = $10 for every $1 base bet


This is where we start getting into some big money, so this wager justifies a larger outlay. In 2017, the Derby trifecta paid $4,148.60 for 50 cents. Besides the opportunity for a life-changing score, the cool thing about the tri is that you can play it for a half dollar, which greatly helps smaller-budgeted players. 

Derby Trifecta picks

My handicapping of the 2018 Derby puts three horses ahead of the rest for the top slot. I like #6 Good Magic, #7 Justify, and #11 Bolt d’Oro. Thus, I’ll start my trifecta wheel by including those numbers in the top slot. In the second and third rungs of the bets, I’m going to expand slightly upon what I included in my exacta, adding #8 Lone Sailor, #9 Hofburg, #14 Mendelssohn, and #16 Magnum Moon. That’s a lot of horses to cover, but remember that I can play this bet on a 50-cent minimum. 

My trifecta: $.50 cent trifecta 6,7,11 with 4,5,6,7,8,9,14,16,18 with 4,5,6,7,8,9,14,16,18 = $81 on every 50-cent base bet. 


Instead of playing the lottery, everyone in the world inclined to gamble should play a Kentucky Derby super. There’s a way better chance of cashing, and the payoff is always generous. You can also play this expensive and elusive bet in $.10 cent increments. Thus, the 2017 Derby super that paid $75,974.50 for a buck, also kicked back $7,597.45 for those playing the same bet for a dime. 

If I were to use the exact same numbers from my trifecta above in the fourth slot of the super, the bet would cost $117.60. Maybe someone sees value in this and doesn’t mind shelling out the cash, but I’m going to try to be more precise and keep my bet more economical. In doing this, I’ll simplify a bit and play it as follows:

My super: $.10 cent super 6,7,11 with 6,7,11,18 with 4,5,6,7,8,9,14,16,18 with 4,5,6,7,8,9,,14,16,18 = $42.10 on every 10-cent base bet.

The Final Word

Finding the right Derby exotic bet is about managing your bankroll and supporting the horses you like in a logical way. You’ll certainly need a little racing luck, but the juice is well worth the squeeze when a winning combo connects. Good luck and smart wagering!

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Category : Sports Betting News

Tag : Kentucky Derby

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