Double the Derby fun for 20 years

IMG_8222Once upon a time, Kentucky Derby bettors could only wager (legally) at the track to win (straight, for old-timers), place or show. Then came daily doubles and exactas. Decades later as exotic bets proliferated, the 1996 Kentucky Derby breached a brave new world — the Oaks-Derby Double. A double spread over two days and two big races.

If you’ve forgotten where the wagering world stood, the 1995 Derby offered win, place and show wagers, an exacta, a trifecta and was part of a pick 6. Now the menu also includes a pick 3 spread over two days and future bets months in advance.

The big takeaway of looking at the Oaks-Derby double’s history? If you have  a strong pick in either the Oaks or the Derby, wheel your pick with every horse in the other race. If you “buy” a 14-horse Oaks by selecting “all,” it’s $28 per horse you use in the Derby on a $2 bet. If you “buy” a 20-horse Derby, it’s $40 per horse you use in the Oaks on a $2 bet. (Now the minimum is $1, so you could cut your costs — and winnings — by half.)

The historical returns on the wager justify the strategy much of the time. The average payout is $299.47 and the median is $84.90 — both on a $2 bet and both of which would get you a profit if you have one solid (and successful) selection in either race.

The record is the $1,395.40 in 2002 when Farda Amiga won the Oaks at 20-1 paired with 20.50-1 War Emblem in the Derby. The lowest was $11.40 for a $2 bet (or $5.70 when adjusted for a $1 minimum bet) in 2014 when favorites Untapable at even money won the Oaks and California Chrome won the Derby at 2.90-1.

The wager has handled $31.34 million, with an average of $1.57 million and a median of $1.856 million. Those numbers are increasing as the Double has attracted $2 million or more in wagers the last six years and in nine of the last 10 (the exception being 2009 when prohibitive favorite Rachel Alexandra paired with ginormous longshot Mine That Bird.

Where daily doubles don’t always offer a lot of value, this bet often stands apart from the norm.

Year Oaks (odds) Derby (odds) $2 Double Handle

1996

Pike Place Dancer (9.80) Grindstone (5.90)

$182.00

$280,898

1997

Blushing K.D. (2.70) Silver Charm (4.00)

$24.80

$483,077

1998

Keeper Hill (3.30) Real Quiet (8.40)

$82.40

$405,494

1999

Silverbulletday (0.10) Charismatic (31.30)

$87.40

$161,370

2000

Secret Status (4.90) Fusaichi Pegasus (2.30)

$51.00

$650,317

2001

Flute (3.30) Monarchos (10.50)

$79.20

$804,416

2002

Farda Amiga (20.00) War Emblem (20.50)

$1395.40

$1,361,582

2003

Bird Town (18.20) Funny Cide (12.80)

$421.80

$1,231,072

2004

Ashado (2.30) Smarty Jones (4.10)

$60.20

$2,038,878

2005

Summerly (4.60) Giacomo (50.30)

$595.20

$1,687,862

2006

Lemons Forever (47.10) Barbaro (6.10)

$890.20

$2,240,240

2007

Rags to Riches (1.50) Street Sense (4.90)

$23.80

$2,309,972

2008

Proud Spell (3.40) Big Brown (2.40)

$37.80

$2,023,441

2009

Rachel Alexandra (0.30) Mine That Bird (50.60)

$237.40

$1,514,974

2010

Blind Luck (1.30) Super Saver (8.00)

$56.60

$2,046,573

2011

Plum Pretty (6.30) Animal Kingdom (20.90)

$345.60

$2,248,079

2012

Believe You Can (13.80) I’ll Have Another (15.30)

$731.20

$2,351,108

2013

Princess of Sylmar (38.80) Orb (5.40)

$621.40

$2,538,808

2014

Untapable (1.00) California Chrome (2.50)

$11.40

$2,397,145

2015

Lovely Maria (6.30) American Pharoah (2.90)

$54.60

$2,562,510

TOTALS

$31,337,816

AVERAGE

$299.47

$1,566,891

MEDIAN

$84.90

$1,855,652

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