Sports Betting

Kentucky Derby’s Purse, Betting Reaches All-Time High

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Kentucky Derby Purse, Betting Reaches All-Time High Run of the Roses

Churchill Downs raised the total amount of prize money ahead of the 150th annual Kentucky Derby. This year’s Run of the Roses will feature a record purse of $5 million, the largest since the Grade I stakes race first began in 1875. The most iconic tradition in horse racing is projected to set other new records. 

150th running of Kentucky Derby features a record purse of $5 million, the first-place winner will net $3.1 million

The first-place winner will receive $3.1 million. Second place will win $1 million while third, fourth, and fifth net $500,000, $250,000, and $150,000 respectively. 

“These record purse increases are a symbol of the health of horse racing in Kentucky,” Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc., said in a statement earlier this week.

“Churchill Downs Inc.’s over $1 billion investment into live and historical horse racing in Kentucky over the last five years has meaningfully strengthened the entire Kentucky Derby Week and year-round racing program. 

“It’s important to acknowledge the state legislature for its commitment to working closely with private enterprise in a truly collaborative partnership to support the continued growth of Kentucky’s signature industry.”

Last year’s race collected a record all-sources handle of $288.7 million last year, about $14.9 million more than the former mark of $273.8 million — set on the previous first Saturday in May.

According to Brooks Holton of the Louisville Courier Journal, when combined with Oaks Day 2023, bettors wagered a staggering $363.6 million across two days of racing.

The 149th edition of the Kentucky Derby also drew a record $188.7 million in wagers. The 150th Run for the Roses is expected to shatter that record. 

Kentucky Derby has seen record growth almost every year since the inaugural race in 1875

Additionally, the all-sources handle for Derby Day increased each year from 2017 up till 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the 146th running to Sept. 5.

 The all-sources handle dropped from $250.9 million in 2019 to $126.03 million in 2020. It was just a rare anomaly, considering the next three races all exceeded $200 million in wagers. 

Furthermore, from 1996 through 2004, the Kentucky Derby featured a purse of $1 million. The purse increased to $2 million and stayed at this mark from 2005 through 2018. From 2019 through 2023, $3 million was guaranteed overall. 

“It is truly gratifying to view the steady growth of the Churchill Downs racing product and the entire Kentucky horse racing and breeding industry, which bettors around the world have embraced,” Churchill Downs Racetrack president Mike Anderson said.

 “Through the purses generated by the racing association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund, Kentucky horsemen and horsewomen are reaping the benefits of Churchill Downs Inc.’s historic investment as we celebrate this year’s milestone 150th Kentucky Derby.”

The first Kentucky Derby, in 1875, had a $1,000 purse including added money to the purse by a racing association.

Aristides, the winner of the first Run for the Roses, received $2,850. The runner-up, Volcano, received $200. The grand total came to $3,050. Of course, $2,050 was added money.

Fierceness, Sierra Leone remain favorites to win this year’s Run for the Roses, Muth remains banned 

This year’s most favored competitors at the 150th running include Fierceness, Sierra Leone, Forever Young, Catching Freedom, Just A Touch, Just Steel, Dornoch, and Endlessly.

Bob Baffert’s trained horse, Muth, was denied entry into the 2024 Kentucky Derby on Thursday amid Baffert’s continued suspension from competing at Churchill Downs.

Zedan Racing Stables requested an emergency hearing and ruling so Muth could run in the Kentucky Derby, per the Associated Press.

However, the motion was denied by Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Jeff S. Taylor.

Baffert was initially suspended from entering horses in races at Churchill Downs for two years after his horse, Medina Spirit, failed a post-race drug test in 2021.

Though, Churchill Downs extended the suspension through 2024, citing “continued concerns regarding the threat to the safety and integrity of racing he poses to CDI-owned racetracks.”