Betting on the Kentucky Derby in Colorado

Horse racing in Colorado has been available for many years thanks to laws passed in the 1990s and additional laws that allowed for horse racing bets to be made online and through mobile sportsbook apps in the 2000s.

If you’re interested in betting on the Kentucky Derby in 2021 and beyond, you can do so in a variety of ways:

  • Online or through a gambling app.
  • Through an off track betting site, aka an OTB.
  • At the only live horse racing venue in Colorado — Arapahoe Park.

Arapahoe Park is well known for offering simulcast betting. Simulcasting allows you to watch the Kentucky Derby (or any horse race) live on TV from your racetrack of choice. You’re able to make bets just as if you were at the race in person.

Do I have to be a resident of Colorado to bet on the Kentucky Derby?

No, you do not — in fact, you can bet on the Kentucky Derby from pretty much any state in the US where horse racing is legal.

However, for the purposes of gambling through specific gaming apps and websites that are only available in Colorado, you’ll need to be within the state lines of Colorado to bet on the Kentucky Derby on those apps and websites.

That being said, as long as you are physically at an OTB or at Arapahoe Park, you can bet on the Kentucky Derby without being a resident of Colorado and collect your winnings.

How much can I bet on the Kentucky Derby?

There are no limits to bets on horse racing in Colorado, so you can bet as much or as little as you like. This is true for all forms of sports betting in Colorado.

Are my winnings reported to the IRS?

If you win more than $600 at any horse racing event in Colorado, the track will report the winnings to the IRS, and you will have to fill out a W-2G form (this form is a specialized wage reporting form specific to gambling).

If you win above $5,000, which is very possible at a horse racing track, then the track will automatically withhold 28% of your winnings for federal taxes and 4% for state taxes.

How do I bet on the Kentucky Derby?

As mentioned above, you have a number of options for betting on the Kentucky Derby while in Colorado: you can bet through Arapahoe Park, you can bet through an OTB (off-track betting site), or you can make your bets online with the rollout of Colorado-specific sports betting apps and websites.

If you decide to make your way to Arapahoe Park (as many horse racing enthusiasts will), you’ll be able to view the Kentucky Derby through simulcast and will be able to make your bets just as you would at any other racetrack in the US.

If you’re not near Arapahoe Park, you can go to an OTB (off-track betting site) and make your bets there. OTBs are scattered all over Colorado, and the big advantage is that you can sit down at their bar or restaurant and enjoy good food and good drinks with fellow fans.

Another option is to make a bet on the many sports betting websites and apps that allow betting on horse racing. You can access these apps on your device of choice, including your smartphone, a tablet, or a desktop or laptop computer.

For many fans, this is going to be the best way to go as OTBs are scarce in Colorado, and you might be many miles away from Arapahoe Park. If you’re going to go this route, you have the advantage of being able to watch the Kentucky Derby from the comfort of your own home.

What kind of bets can I make?

There are many types of bets available when it comes to horse racing, but the types of bets you’ll actually be able to make in Colorado are going to be limited by the OTB or sports betting app you choose (or by Arapahoe Park itself).

Arapahoe Park and some OTBs have special bets available.

Here are some of the most popular types of bets that you’ll find for the Kentucky Derby:

  • Win bets
  • Place bets
  • Show bets
  • Quinella bets
  • Exacta bets
  • Trifecta bets
  • Superfecta bets
  • Boxes
  • Wheels
  • Prop bets

Popular bet types explained

  • Win bets: This type of bet is straightforward and means what it says — a win bet is a bet on a particular horse to win the race. If the horse comes in second or worse, then you don’t win any money.
  • Place bets: A place bet is a bet that the horse will finish in either first or second place, so you’re not going to get as much money for this bet as you would for a win, but you also have a better chance of winning.
  • Show bets: A show bet, as you’ve probably guessed at this point, means the horse has finish in either first, second or third place. This bet pays less money than a place bet and has even better odds.
  • Quinella bets: This is where horse racing bets start to get interesting. Unlike in other forms of sports betting where two individuals face off against each other or two teams face off, horse racing allows you to bet on how multiple horses will perform. A quinella bet is where you select the two horses you think will finish in the top two spots. They can finish in any order, so for example, you could bet on No. 1 and No. 3, and then you would win if No. 1 finished first and No. 3 finished second OR if No. 3 finished first and No. 1 finished second.
  • Exacta bets: This bet is the quinella with a twist. You’re still betting on the top two horses, but you have to get the order right. In the example above, you would choose No. 1 and No. 3, but then you would have to decide which horse would get first place and which would get second. If the order was reversed, you would lose (unlike a quinella).
  • Trifecta bets: Similar to an exacta, you’re betting on which three horses will come in first, second and third (in order). So you’re essentially just picking an exacta and then picking which horse will come in third as well. As you can imagine, this bet has much lower odds than an exacta, and an exacta bet has lower odds than a quinella.
  • Superfecta bets: A superfecta is just adding on a fourth horse to a trifecta. You’re betting on which horses will finish in first, second, third and fourth place, in order.
  • Boxes: Boxing a bet is covering all the different possibilities for that bet. So, for example, if you box a trifecta, rather than having to choose the exact order, you just end up choosing three horses that you think will, all together, claim the top three spots in some order.
    You can box a bet with a quinella, exacta and superfecta as well.
  • Wheels: Wheeling is similar to boxing in that you are covering multiple possible combinations, but in this case you are selecting the winner. So if you wheel a trifecta, you choose one horse to win in each combination and then two other horses that can claim the second and third spots in any order.
  • Prop betting: Prop betting is common across much of sports betting, and horse racing is no different. For the Kentucky Derby (and many other horse races), prop bets are as random (and sometimes as silly) as prop bets in just about any other sport. For example, you can bet on which gate the winner will break from, what color the winning horse will be, the length by which the winner will win or even the age of the winning jockey.

Other types of bets

Depending on the track, OTB or online gambling app or website you’re betting on, there may be other types of bets available.

For example, Arapahoe Park offers daily double bets and triple bets. These bets pay off if you correctly pick the winners of two or three consecutive races, respectively.

Another type of bet that’s often available is across the board, where you essentially will make a win bet, a place bet and a show bet all together on a single horse and then get paid out just as you would if you’d made the bets individually.

The odds for these two bets are quite low, but if you’re feeling lucky, it might be worth a shot.

How can I get started?

To get started, make sure you are over the age of 21 (the legal gambling age for sports betting in CO) and that you are physically within the state lines of Colorado.

Then, all you have to do is either visit Arapahoe Park or any of the OTBs in Colorado, or you can download your sports betting app of choice to your preferred smart device.

Finally, you’ll need to have your bank information and/or credit card information handy, and you’ll need to have your photo ID ready.