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Sportsbook exec discusses Kentucky Derby’s popularity, rise of horse betting: ‘It’s the Super Bowl’

As sports gambling continues to grow exponentially, so has betting on the ponies.

No horse race on the calendar will be bet on more than Saturday’s Kentucky Derby – as Caesar’s Vice President of Trading Craig Mucklow says, “This is the Super Bowl of horse racing.”

Just before 7 p.m. ET, viewers around the country will watch the 20 horses head toward the starting gate at Churchill Downs, and just about every single one of them will have some sort of bet on it.

It might just be the only horse race a decent portion of people watch in the entire year, but in recent years, there has been a sense of needing to be involved.

“It used to be an all men’s game. Now, as sports gambling has become more involved…the younger generation is getting more involved, it’s become more of a society thing as well,” Mucklow said in a recent interview to Fox News Digital, noting that Tom Brady and other celebrities often show up in their pastel-colored suits and hats. “The Interest has increased.”

Mucklow admits that horse racing bets only rise “around the marquee meetings,” with Saturday’s Run of the Roses leading the way “by a mile.” Believe it or not, the Preakness and Belmont actually trail the Breeder’s Cup races in terms of handle, but nothing tops the race in Lousville.

View of Churchill Downs


“It’s rich in history, the Kentucky Derby. Since I’ve moved here [from England), all the Americans are like, ‘It’s Derby Day.’ Everyone gets excited for it – it’s like a national holiday.”

Mucklow even joked, though, that because everyone wants to bet at the same time (normally, in the final hours, or even minutes, leading up to the race), they may be stuck in queues waiting to place bets (keep in mind, Caesars, FanDuel, DraftKings, etc. don’t take typical racing bets – those still need to be made through separate horse-betting sites like TVG).

“Every Tom, Dick, and Harry says ‘I’m going to bet on the Derby,’ because it’s the Derby. Everyone waits until the last minute, and then you’re struck in queues on the mobile app,” says an insightful Mucklow. “My advice is, check the weather first, because that can affect your horse; and also, place your bets earlier. You don’t want to be disappointed, especially if you pick the horse, you put the pen to paper, and then you don’t want to see that ticket you haven’t gotten wind up winning.”

A general view before the 2023 Kentucky Derby

Mucklow says the 4-1 favorite in Sierra Leone has had the most money and people bet on it to win.

Post time is 6:57 p.m. ET.

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