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150th Kentucky Derby purse increased to $5 million

Published on January 11, 2024
Updated on January 16, 2024
Written by Chris

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150th Kentucky Derby purse increased to $5 million
  • Churchill Downs set for 150th Kentucky Derby
  • Purse increased to $5 million from $3 million
  • 2024 event set to be richest in the history of the race

Churchill Downs has declared this year’s Kentucky Derby as the richest in the history of the Classic, with the purse increased to an impressive $5 million from the previous $3 million, according to an announcement on Wednesday. 

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Kentucky Derby rivalling Breeders’ Cup as US’s richest race

This places the Derby in close competition with the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic as the most lucrative race in the US. Stakes races during the spring racing program at Churchill Downs will also enjoy a 25% boost in prize money, totaling $5.1 million, a substantial increase compared to last year.

Bill Carstanjen, the CEO of Churchill Downs Inc, emphasised that these record purse hikes signify the robust health of horse racing in Kentucky. The company’s investment of over $1 billion in live and historical horse racing in Kentucky over the last five years has significantly strengthened the entire Kentucky Derby week and the year-round racing program. Carstanjen acknowledged the state legislature for its collaborative partnership, demonstrating a commitment to supporting the continued growth of Kentucky’s signature horse racing industry.

With a guaranteed $5 million in prize money for the 150th Kentucky Derby this year, the winner is set to receive the coveted gold trophy, a substantial $3.1 million payday, and potentially millions more as a stallion after retirement from racing. Other significant payouts include $1 million for the runner-up, $500,000 for third place, $250,000 for fourth, and $150,000 for fifth.

The Kentucky Derby purse has seen varying values over the years, with amounts of $3 million from 2019-2023, $2 million from 2005-2018, and $1 million from 1996-2004.

Churchill Downs president Mike Anderson expressed gratification in observing the steady growth of the racing product and the overall Kentucky horse racing and breeding industry. The Kentucky Oaks, the nation’s most lucrative race for three-year-old fillies, maintains its stature with a purse of $1.5 million. This is an increase from $1.25 million since 2019, $1 million from 2011-2018, and $500,000 from 1996-2010.

In a bid to attract more international competition, four races on Kentucky Derby week over the Churchill Downs turf will offer entry and travel incentives for horses, including opportunities to compete in some of Europe’s most prestigious races, such as those during Royal Ascot. Notably, the Churchill Downs turf course faced challenges in 2022-23, leading to its suspension in November during the fall meet.

Best betting sites for your Kentucky Derby picks!

The best betting sites in the UK and Britain’s best horse racing bookmakers will offer full coverage of the Kentucky Derby for UK punters. Check out the top lists at when looking to make your selections ahead of the big race!

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Chris is a former athlete and a qualified PE teacher. He is a keen football fan, watching many matches at different levels throughout the season, and enjoys following many different sports. With betting and sports sites, he has a keen eye for detail and can to highlight positives and negatives for users. His experience in sport as a performer, teacher, writer and fan allows him to see things from many different perspectives. Editorial Promise