How Much Are Kentucky Derby Tickets?

Horse racing has been referred to as the sport of kings. If that’s true, it would make the Kentucky Derby the king of kings. The annual race held at Churchill Downs is without a doubt the most high-profile event in the sport. But while it can be a tough ticket to buy, have you ever wondered how much those tickets cost?

The Kentucky Derby gets great ratings every year

Hot Rod Charlie walks on the track during training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 26, 2021
Horses on the track before Kentucky Derby training at Churchill Downs | Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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To understand how beloved this event really is, it helps to look at its ratings. Believe it or not, a historically bad year ratings-wise for the derby still represented one of the biggest rating highs in all of sports. 

According to Sports Media Watch, Kentucky Derby ratings in 2020 were down in a big way. The race, broadcast on NBC, averaged a 4.8 rating with 9.26 million people watching during the actual race part of the event. This was the lowest rating totals the derby had seen since 2000, when ABC last broadcast the event, drawing 9.1 million viewers. 

Compared to 2019 ratings, numbers were down 49%. A number of factors contributed to this: For one, sports ratings were down across the board due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the derby was held well after its traditional springtime start date. That said, the derby was the highest-rated sports-related event since April 2020’s NFL draft.

It also challenged records for sports events held over the Labor Day weekend, typically a slow weekend for sports. Not since a Florida State-Alabama tilt three years prior had drawn 12.34 million viewers had a sports broadcast scored this well. 

Odds for the 2021 Kentucky Derby

Of course, the derby is nothing without interested bettors looking into the odds of the various horses running the mile and a quarter-long race. Twinspires.com reports that the three horses with the best odds for the 2021 Derby are: 

  • Essential Quality: 5-2
  • Hot Rod Charlie: 6-1
  • Super Stock: 20-1

After that, the long shots get a little longer. According to NBC Sports, the 2021 Kentucky Derby is being held on Saturday, May 1 with coverage beginning at 12:30 (though the actual race won’t air until the late afternoon/early evening time frame). The race returns to the spring after being postponed to late summer last year.

TripleCrownRaces.com has the dates for all the Triple Crown events: after the derby’s held May 1st, the Preakness follows on May 15 with the Belmont Stakes scheduled for June 5. If you’re not planning to watch on TV but would like to attend, you’ll need to buy tickets. 

How much are Kentucky Derby tickets? 

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One of the best parts about the Kentucky Derby is the pageantry. Watching on TV, one can see the ornate suits and dresses worn by the attendees, and the event may seem like an unattainable ticket to get.

But Kentucky Derby tickets aren’t quite as steep as you may think during non-derby events — though getting a ticket doesn’t guarantee you a seat, just admission to the grounds. According to the Churchill Downs website, general admission tickets for the site are as follows:

  • $5 for adults
  • $3 for seniors
  • Children enter free

Of course, tickets are a bit higher when it comes to the derby. The Kentucky Derby’s site reports the following ticket prices for the event: 

  • $75 starting April 7 until April 18
  • $80 from April 19 until the day of the event at noon
  • $85 on the day of the event

While those aren’t cheap, they aren’t ridiculously overpriced like some events like the Super Bowl.