Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) announced its pinnacle event and a major driver of the company’s financial success, the Kentucky Derby, set new wagering records this year. The 148th edition of the premier horse racing event also surprised experts and pundits by presenting an 80-1 winner, Rich Strike.
Kentucky Derby 148
CDI announced the track took $273.8 million in wagers for Saturday’s race card beating the previous record of $250.9 million by 9%. The previous record was set in 2019 in the last edition of the race without any interruptions or restrictions.
The Kentucky Derby 148 accounted for almost $179 million in wagers, surpassing the previous high of $165.5 million also set in 2019. CDI did not provide information on how much it paid in winnings, following the huge surprise sprung by Rich Strike whose odds to win the race were 80-1.
Compared to the Kentucky Derby 147, this year’s amount of total wagers at the track on the Derby Day races represents an increase of 17.5% on $233 million wagered in 2021, while the Derby race wagers improved by 15% on $155.4 million in 2021.
Online, the Kentucky Derby 148 also generated growth for the operator, with $67.4 million in bets placed via TwinSpires advanced-deposit wagering website, up 8% on the 2021 total. The Kentucky Derby itself posted a similar increase of 8% by registering $44 million in bets.
This year’s edition of the premier horse racing series attracted 147,294 visitors, and nearly returned the track and the event to its 2019 pre-pandemic level of 150,729. In 2021, attendance was 51,838 following the restrictions, while in 2020, the Kentucky Derby ran without attendance. The attendance record was set back in 2015 when the Kentucky Derby event attracted 170,513 fans.
The Kentucky Derby record results followed another record for the company set earlier by the Kentucky Oaks, where fans and bettors produced a record $74.6 million in wagers to beat the event’s 2019 edition by 24%.
The Kentucky Oaks race itself generated $24.3 million in bets to surpass the previous high set in 2019 by 25% while the week of races produced a record $391.8 million in bets to beat the previous record by 14%.
Following the impressive sports betting activity at the Kentucky Derby 148, the company is expecting the Derby’s share of its total earnings to also set a new record.