To win a trifecta bet in horse racing, bettors must select the first three finishers in a horse race in the exact order. These are the highest official trifecta payouts in Kentucky Derby history.
By official, I mean the trifecta payouts at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, where the Kentucky Derby is run every year on the first Saturday in May. In recent years, almost all the bettors who bet on the Kentucky Derby are paid the same amount if they win the trifecta bet. In the past that was not always true.
In the 1980s, at tracks like Monmouth Park in New Jersey, where I used to bet on the Kentucky Derby, individual tracks would simulcast the Kentucky Derby, but run their own betting pools for the race. So the payouts for trifectas and other bets would vary from track to track. Each trifecta bet listed below is for a $2 bet.
Highest Trifecta Payouts in Kentucky Derby History
1. 2005 Kentucky Derby – $133,134.80
The record highest trifecta payout for the Kentucky Derby occurred in 2005, when bettors who had Giacomo first, Closing Argument second, and Afleet Alex third for the trifecta cashed a whopping $133,134.80 for each $2 trifecta bet.
Giacomo went off at odds of 50.30 to one, while Closing Argument was the longest odds horse in the race at 71.60 to one, and Afleet Alex went off at 4.50 to one. Giacomo’s win price in 2005 ($102.60) was the third highest in Kentucky Derby history.
Congratulations to all the lucky bettors who hit this fantastic trifecta payout.
2. 2009 Kentucky Derby – $41,500.60
The second highest trifecta payout for the Kentucky Derby came in 2009, when Mine That Bird finished first, Pioneerof the Nile finished second, and Musket Man ran third, for a trifecta payout of $41,500.60.
Mine That Bird went off at odds of 50.60 to one, paying the second highest win price in Kentucky Derby history, while Pioneerof the Nile went off at odds of 6.30 to one, and Musket Man had odds of 19.00 to one.
The key to cashing this huge trifecta was having Mine That Bird on top. That was not easy to do, even though he did win the 2009 Kentucky Derby by almost seven lengths.
3. 2002 Kentucky Derby – $18,373.20
The third largest official trifecta payout in Kentucky Derby history came in 2002, when War Emblem ran first, Proud Citizen ran second, and Perfect Drift ran third for a $18,373.20 trifecta payout.
War Emblem went off at odds of 20.50 to one, while Proud Citizen had odds of 23.50 to one, and Perfect Drift went off at 7.90 to one odds. The 2002 Kentucky Derby was unusual, because War Emblem, Proud Citizen, and Perfect Drift pretty much ran all the way around the track in first, second, and third place.
I’ve hit a number of trifectas in regular horse races where the three top horses ran one, two, three all the way around the track, but never in the Kentucky Derby, or any race that had 18 horses in it, as the 2002 Kentucky Derby did.
4. 2001 Kentucky Derby – $12,238.40
The 2001 Kentucky Derby trifecta paid $12,238.40, as Monarchos ran first, Invisible Ink ran second, and Congaree ran third. Monarchos went off at odds of 10.50 to one, while Invisible Ink was 55.00 to one, and Congaree was 7.20 to one.
5. 2006 Kentucky Derby – $11,418.40
The fifth highest official trifecta payout in Kenutcky Derby history came in 2006, when Barbaro won the race, followed by Bluegrass Cat in second, and Steppenwolfer ran third. Barbaro went off at odds of 6.10, the second betting choice in the race, while Bluegrass Cat was 30.00 to one, and Steppenwolfer was 16.30 to one.