Kentucky Derby Tips: How to pick the winner of America’s biggest horse race

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Matt Tenby
Matt has been a writer for American Betting Experts since 2019. He loves to watch, bet on and write about soccer but is also a huge NBA and NFL fan.

On Saturday, May 4, the Kentucky Derby will be run for the 145th time under the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Register at and receive a $100 sign-up bonus to use on the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

Twenty equine athletes will test their courage, speed and stamina over a 1 1/4-mile distance in front of a massive, energetic and often raucous crowd. Talent is paramount but composure and fortitude are other critical components for a Derby triumph.

Based on the results of the points races over the last several months, all 20 horses earned their way into the Kentucky Derby starting gate. Some will be favorites, and others will be longshots. But remember, the horses don鈥檛 know the odds.

On paper some horses might look better than others, but races aren鈥檛 run on paper, and horses aren鈥檛 machines. They鈥檙e living, breathing animals. None of their race day experience to date, or any schooling they might go through the week before the race, can recreate the insane atmosphere they will face on the first Saturday in May.

From the walkover to the paddock to the tunnel to the racetrack and finally the starting gate, the Kentucky Derby participants will be center stage with an audience of roughly 170,000 people. Some of the horses will get stage fright, others will act like seasoned professionals.

Horses who get worked up before the race are unlikely to put their best hoof forward when the gate opens. Those who don鈥檛 turn a hair have a much better chance to run to their top capabilities.

Here are some of the positive and negative signs you can look for on Kentucky Derby Day.

Positive Signs

Overall alertness

路 On their toes, nudging the pony

Prancy, but not too prancy

Well-defined muscle tone

Shiny coat 鈥 one that glistens in the sun 鈥 dappled, like freckles on a human

Bright eye

Satellite ears

路 A horse with their neck bowed, feeling invincible

Negative Signs锘

路 Sweating on a cool day. Look for a frothy substance on the neck and kidney area. It鈥檚 a sign of nervousness. Sweaty horses are said to be 鈥渨ashed out”

路 Dull and disinterested 鈥 walking with their head down like they just woke up from a nap. Take note, the lazy look may not be a negative for classy, seasoned veterans who have been to battle many times and understand their job

Rambunctious 鈥 horses who are overly excited are wasting valuable energy

路 Incessant tail swishing 鈥 a sign of being mad or upset

Head over the pony in the post parade 鈥 a sign they鈥檙e anxious and looking for comfort

Horses can鈥檛 talk, but they can communicate with their body language, not only in the Kentucky Derby, but in every race that is run. When picking horses to bet on, use these visuals to your advantage.

by The Racing Analysts of TwinSpire

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