How Much Do You Win for Winning the Kentucky Derby?
The Kentucky Derby is considered the premium jewel in the Triple Crown of horse racing, the highest-profile race of the year.
In addition to the fame of being called “Kentucky Derby champion” and winning a garland of roses, the owner of the first-place winner takes home a hefty payday.
Winning Owner Takes More Than Half the $3 Million Purse
The purse for the 2022 Kentucky Derby is $3 million, with $1.86 million of that going to the winning horse’s owner (and 10%, or $186,000, to the winning jockey).
The remaining purse is shared among the second- through fifth-place finishers. The second-place horse earns $600,000, followed by $300,000 for third, $150,000 for fourth and $90,000 for fifth.
That purse has gone up substantially since the race began. The first Kentucky Derby paid out $1,000, TwinSpires.com reported. In 1913, the Derby winner took home a whopping $5,475, Money.com reported. The number was $100,000 in the 1950s and reached $1 million in 1995.
The total purse jumped from $2 million to $3 million in 2019, the first increase in 14 years, ESPN reported. That bump came because of a large rise in electronic paramutuel betting. The total purse had been $2 million since 2005 (paying the winner $1.24 million) and had stayed at $1 million since 1995.
The Kentucky Derby has the highest payout of the three Triple Crown races. The Preakness Stakes pays out $1.5 million, while the Belmont Stakes offers $1 million.
What About the Individual Bettor?
Wagering at Churchill Downs soared to $155.4 million in 2021, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. That’s an 85% increase from the year before, which was affected by the pandemic. That doesn’t include online sportsbooks or other legal sports betting. BoydsBets.com estimates that Las Vegas sportsbooks bring in an addition $11 million to $16.6 million for each Derby.
The Derby offers plenty of options for you to bet, from a straight win-place-show bet to more exotic wagers, such as an exacta, trifecta or superfecta (picking the top two, three or four finishers).
More on the Money of the Derby
The Kentucky Derby is big business. And it has grown along with the economy over the decades. See all the rest of GOBankingRates’ content on the Derby:
- How Much Is Bet on the Kentucky Derby Each Year?
- How Much Did These Kentucky Derby Winners Make for Their Owners?
- Bob Baffert and Other Trainers Whose Kentucky Derby Winners Have Made the Most Money
- How To Turn a $5 Bet Into $100
- What Does a Trip to the Kentucky Derby Cost?
- Cost To Attend the Kentucky Derby & 9 Other Major Sporting Events
Some bettors have used those exotics to take home some significant cash.
In 2019, a Las Vegas bettor reportedly won $102,000 on $8 in superfecta bets. He got lucky when Country House, a 65/1 longshot, won the Derby after apparent winner Maximum Security was disqualified.
In 2018, a Texas woman won about 10 times that amount. She bet $18 on a Pick 5 and nailed the winner of the Derby, Justify, and the top horses in the four races leading up the Derby. She walked away with $1.2 million.
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Jami Farkas contributed to the reporting for this article.