Speed Reads

derby day

Here's how to bet on the Kentucky Derby without looking like you've had too many juleps

By all means enjoy a mint julep on Derby Day, but placing your bets on the first race of the Triple Crown series is a time for sober calculation. For Kentucky Derby neophytes, CBS Sports has this handy breakdown of all the main betting terms you'll need to understand at the track:

Win: Pick the horse that wins the race

Place: Pick a horse that finishes first or second

Show: Pick a horse that finishes first, second, or third

Daily Double: Pick the winners of two races

Exacta: Pick the first and second-place finishers in the correct order

Exacta Box: Pick the first and second-place finishers in no particular order

Trifecta: Pick the first, second, and third-place finishers in the correct order

Trifecta Box: Pick the first, second, and third-place finishers in no particular order

Superfecta: Pick the first, second, third, and fourth-place finishers in the correct order

Superfecta Box: Pick the first, second, third, and fourth-place finishers in no particular order [CBS Sports]

As for which horses to pick (assuming you're not choosing on name quality alone), Andrew Beaton at FiveThirtyEight explains that new rules for determining which 20 Thoroughbreds get to run has made the race more predictable in recent years, even though the contest remains volatile compared to comparable races. That new dynamic means "the best betting strategy for this year's Derby may also be the dumbest one," Beaton says, namely: "Bet on Classic Empire," the favorite to win.

Coverage of the Derby begins at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC. The race itself, "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports," is scheduled for 6:46 p.m. ET.