What is the Kentucky Oaks/Derby Double?

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May 6th, 2022

Every year, when the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) roll around, it’s common to hear handicappers discuss their plays for the “Oaks/Derby Double.”

Have you ever wondered what this wager entails? Let’s define the Oaks/Derby Double, then explain some strategies for playing the popular wager.

What is the Oaks/Derby Double?

The Oaks/Derby Double is essentially a double bet. But rather than require bettors to select the winners of two consecutive races on a single afternoon, it involves selecting the winners of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Since the Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May, and the Kentucky Oaks on the Friday before, the wager actually spans two days.

What is the minimum bet amount for the Oaks/Derby Double?

As of 2022, the Oaks/Derby Double is a $1 wager. Of course, bettors can play the double for higher denominations if they want to increase the payoff.

What is the best strategy for betting the Oaks/Derby Double?

There are many ways to play the Oaks/Derby Double, and the best strategy naturally depends on which horse(s) you like in each race.

Suppose you like short-priced runners (even favorites) in both the Oaks and the Derby. Why not single them in each half of the Oaks/Derby Double? The payoff might be better than you anticipate. In 2018, Monomoy Girl won the Kentucky Oaks as the 26-10 second choice while Justify claimed the Kentucky Derby as the 29-10 favorite. Betting $20 to win on both Monomoy Girl and Justify would have yielded a $150 return on a $40 investment — not bad at all. But betting $20 on an Oaks/Derby Double would have returned $332 — more than twice as much at half the cost.

Another strategy is to combine a favorite with a few longshots. It wasn’t hard to identify 54-10 favorite Orb as a logical winner of the 2013 Kentucky Derby. In contrast, the Oaks yielded a stunning upset as Princess of Sylmar rallied to victory at 388-10. Betting $20 to win on Princess of Sylmar would have yielded a lucrative $796 payday… but bettors who combined Princess of Sylmar with Orb in a $20 Oaks/Derby Double were rewarded to the tune of $6,214.

In short, betting the Oaks/Derby Double can be a great way to increase payoffs, regardless of whether you’re playing favorites, longshots, or a combination of both. If you’re confident in your Oaks and Derby selections, betting them in the Oaks/Derby Double can yield a bigger payday than betting them separately to win.

Be sure to give the Oaks/Derby Double a try!