Kentucky Derby Prep Races Give WV Bettors A Run For Their Money

Written By Dave Bontempo on March 31, 2022
Kentucky Derby prep races: WV sportsbook odds

The Kentucky Derby dress rehearsal hits high speed the next two weekends.

West Virginia online horse bettors, via TVG and other avenues, can gamble into several million-dollar stakes races and other purses near seven figures in the big prelude to the Run for the Roses in May.

Winners in the upcoming races will become top Kentucky Derby contenders.

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Kentucky Derby prep races

The important races begin Saturday.

Headlining the pack is the richest Kentucky Derby prep, the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

It will be flanked by the $1 million Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, and the $600,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks from Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky.

On April 9, there are the following:

  • $1 million Blue Grass from Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky
  • $750,000 Wood Memorial from Aqueduct Race Track in Queens, New York
  • $750,000 Santa Anita Derby in Arcadia, California

What a preparation tool for Mountain State gamblers.

The winners of these five races will join Epicenter and Crown Pride as major contenders for the Derby. That duo took the first major preps this past weekend, with Epicenter winning the Louisiana Derby and Crown Pride capturing the UAE Derby in Dubai.

The upcoming set of races marks a turning point for the nation’s three-year-old thoroughbreds. It turns hopefuls into prime Derby contenders, culminating in an unofficial winter-long competition circuit at several individual tracks.

Horses progressed through minor and intermediate level races in places like Oaklawn, Gulfstream, and Santa Anita. Their improvement at each level enabled them to reach the top of the Kentucky Derby prep-race ladder these next two weekends.

Those who take the final step, winning one of the upcoming races, then go on to Churchill Downs for the $3 million Kentucky Derby.

Additional horse races this weekend

Other than Saturday’s top events, Mountain State bettors can experience each track’s efforts to corner the gambling market with high-level races supporting the main event.


Besides the Arkansas Derby, gamblers can wager on the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes and the $400,000 Oaklawn Park Mile. Several other races with more than $100,000 in purses are on the card.

Gulfstream Park

The $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks and the $200,000 Pan Am Stakes anchor the $1 million Florida Derby. There are seven other races with at least $100,000 in purse money.

It is the signature racing afternoon at this track.

One day later, to close its meet, Gulfstream has a mandatory payout of its Rainbow Pick 6. It may have a gambling pool of anywhere between $3 million and $5 million.

Gamblers must pick the winners of the last six races. It takes a single winning ticket to collect the entire pot. But on a mandatory payout day, the entire pool will be disbursed, even to multiple winners.

Turfway Park

The $250,000 Bourbonette and the $250,000 Kentucky Oaks supplement the $600,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks.

All three tracks thus unfurl purses over $1 million, ensuring high interest from gamblers who like placing action on the nation’s top horses.

West Virginia bettors also have the luxury of enjoying live racing right in their state.

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races anchors the Saturday lineup with a slate of races starting at 7 p.m. Charles Town runs Wednesday-Saturday evenings.

Charles Town is long shot heaven. Bet the bombs with impunity.

The track has returned several mind-boggling $2 superfectas this year. A recent one occurred March 17, with one superfecta exceeding $45,000 and another approaching $25,000, two races apart. Look for big fields and low-level claiming races as the breeding grounds of a potential payout in “telephone numbers.”

Kentucky Derby prep odds

Here’s an overview of this weekend’s races:

Florida Derby

White Abarrio beat Simplification in the Holy Bull and then bypassed the Fountain of Youth, which Simplification won. Simplification blew the start of the Holy Bull race and stalked nicely to win the Fountain of Youth.

They meet again.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher is expected to seek a record seventh Florida Derby success with Charge It, who enters off an eye-catching 8 1/2-length maiden victory at Gulfstream on Feb. 12.

Recent Florida Derby winners who have captured the Kentucky Derby include:

  • Orb in 2013
  • Nyquist in 2016
  • Always Dreaming in 2017
  • Maximum Security, who prevailed here in 2019

And Maximum Security crossed the Kentucky Derby wire first but was disqualified for alleged interference.

A similar battle for regional supremacy unfolds at Oaklawn Park. The Arkansas Derby has an interesting cast of characters who have been battling all winter.

Secret Oath, the early 5-2 favorite, is a filly trying to beat the mares.

She triumphed handily in the Honeybee Stakes last month and has the best time over the distance at this track in the field.

Un Ojo won the Rebel Stakes at mind-boggling odds of 75-1. Barber Road, who was charging late and just missed, returns for another shot.

Lightly raced We The People will also gain betting respect.

Photo by Brynn Anderson / Associated Press
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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others. He writes significantly about the emerging world of legal New Jersey sports betting.

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