Without Sports Betting, Kentucky Derby Biggest Gambling Event In CA

Written By Rashid Mohamed on April 25, 2023 - Last Updated on June 28, 2023
Options for betting on the 2023 Kentucky Derby in California, from playca.com

With only a few weeks remaining before the 2023 Kentucky Derby, California fans are gearing up for the first jewel of the Triple Crown Series.

The 149th Run for the Roses will take place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, May 6. The races start at 7:30 p.m. ET, with coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. on NBC.

Without the legalization of sports betting in California, betting on horse races in California is a popular form of legal gambling in California. For Californians interested in betting on the Kentucky Derby, here’s a brief guide.

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Top horses in the Kentucky Derby

The annual running of the Kentucky Derby is a tradition that dates back to the mid-19th century and is nurtured at California’s four renowned racetracks: Santa Anita Park, Del Mar, Fairgrounds, Golden Gate Fields, and Los Alamitos Race Course.

One of the first things you need to know before placing any bets is which of the horses are heavily wagered on by spectators. 

The following top contenders have dominated the race’s latest betting lines. 


Forte is a three-year-old colt sired by Violence out of the Blame mare Queen Caroline. Bred in Kentucky by the South Gate Farm, he raced from 2022 to 2023 with Todd Pletcher as his trainer for Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable. 

Forte has raced at Belmont Park, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, and Saratoga and managed to secure wins in all four venues. His stakes wins include the 2023 Florida Derby (G1), 2023 Fountain of Youth (G2), 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), 2022 Breeders’ Futurity (G1), and the 2022 Hopeful (G1). 

The impressive colt also received the American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse Award in 2022. So far, Forte has amassed a total of $2,409,830.

Forte is the current favorite at 3-1, running from the No. 15 post.

Tapit Trice

Tapit Trice is another exquisitely-bred colt trained by the legendary Todd Pletcher. Owned by Whisper Hill Farm, LLC, and Gainesway Stable, the three-year-old was sired by Tapit out of Danzatrice. 

The Kentucky-bred colt has raced and won titles at Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, and Tampa Bay Downs. Tapit Trice’s major stakes wins include the 2023 Blue Grass Stakes (G1), and the 2023 Tampa Bay Derby (G3). 

Tapit Trice currently has 5-1 odds, running from the No. 5 post.

Practical Move

This three-year-old colt has won all its races so far in 2023. Bred in Kentucky, his trainer is Tim Yakteen, and he races for his owners, Pierre and Leslie Amestoy. 

Practical Move has raced at Del Mar, Los Alamitos Day, and Santa Anita. His stakes wins include the 2023 Santa Anita Derby (G1), 2023 San Felipe (G2), and the 2022 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). Current stakes earnings for the colt are $822,000.

Practical Move is getting 10-1 odds, running from the No. 10 post.

Angel of Empire

Bred in Pennsylvania by the sire Classic Empire out of the mare Armony’s Angel, Angel of Empire’s debut as a two-year-old was the 2022 Horseshoe Indianapolis. The following year, he debuted at Smart Jones, where he placed second. 

Trained by Brad Cox, the colt has raced for Albaugh Family Stables LLC and has raced and won at Fair Grounds, Horseshoe Indianapolis, Kentucky Downs, and Oaklawn Park. 

His stakes wins include the Arkansas Derby (G1) and the Risen Star (G2), with total earnings to date at $342,125.

Angel of Empire, the No. 14 horse, currently has 8-1 odds.

ALSO READ: Santa Anita Park Has Produced Its Fair Share Of Kentucky Derby Winners

Derma Sotogake

This is a three-year-old Japan-bred horse sired by Mind Your Biscuits out of the Neo Universe mare Amour Poesie. The two-time Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen winner was trained by Hidetaka Otonashi

The colt was also the 2023 Group 2 $1 million UAE Derby winner, earning 100 points for that victory. His earnings in 2023 so far total $730,000 with a 50% winning rate. 

Derma Sotogake has 10-1 odds and is truing to become the first No. 17 horse to ever win a Kentucky Derby.

RELATED: California Horses Practical Move, Reincarnate, Skinner Running In Kentucky Derby 2023

Types of bets for the Kentucky Derby

What makes the Kentucky Derby so attractive to bettors is its varied wagering options. Some of the most popular bets available for the upcoming Run of the Roses are:

Win – Select one horse to win the race. If that horse comes in first place, you win the bet. 

Place – You pick two horses to finish the race in the first and second positions. 

Show – This bet requires you to select three horses to complete the race in first, second, and third place. While this bet pays less than win and place, you have a higher chance of winning.

Exacta – Similar to a place bet, here you are required to pick two horses to finish first and second, but in exact order. Known as an exotic bet, exactas are quite popular.

Quinella – Much like exactas, a player must pick two horses to finish the race in first or second place. The bet is won if the two horses secure any of the two positions. 

Trifecta – One of the more challenging bets whereby you have to pick the exact horses to win first, second, and third in a race. This bet demands a lot of research since you have to predict the first three positions in exact order, but it pays handsomely. 

Superfecta – To win this complex exotic bet, you’d have to pick three horses to place, first, second, third, and fourth in the Kentucky Derby, and in that exact order. A jackpot prize awaits the punter with the winning ticket.

Super Hi-Five – The last of the exotic orders, requires you to pick five thoroughbreds to secure the top five positions in the final order of finish. The winner of this rare bet is also promised a jackpot prize.

Best online horse betting apps for Californians

To bet on the Kentucky Derby, California punters can use any of the following third-party platforms to create accounts and place wagers on races:

  • Xpressbet
  • WatchandWager
  • bRacing (bSpot)
  • NYRA Bets
  • Off TrackBetting

In addition to wagering online, you can also place bets at any of the four big racetracks in California like Del Mar or Santa Anita Park. Otherwise, there are also 29 other off-track betting locations available.

Photo by Shutterstock.com
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Rashid Mohamed

Rashid Mohamed is an international journalist with a special interest in sports writing. He is a Poli-Sci graduate of Ohio University and holds an A.A.S in Journalism. He has worked in a number of countries and has extensive experience in the United Nations as well as other regional, national, and international organizations. Rashid lives and writes out of Denver, Colorado.

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