Kentucky Derby Boosts Purse to $5 Million; $3.1 Million to Winner

Talk about a pay raise!

The purse for the 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) has been boosted to $5 million, a great leap from $3 million since 2019.

The breakdown translates to the winner earning $3.1 million — $100,000 more than last year’s entire purse – the runner-up collecting $1 million, third place taking in $500,000, fourth place worth $250,000, and $150,000 for fifth place.

With the increase, the 1 ¼-mile Derby for 3-year-olds becomes the second richest race in America behind the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

In addition, Churchill Downs announced Wednesday (Jan. 10) a 50-race stakes schedule worth a total of $25.6 million for is spring meet from Apil 27-June 30. Last year’s schedule was $20.5 million.

Churchill Downs said the increase is due to the company’s investment into historical horse racing, which boosts funding for live racing.

“These record purse increases are a symbol of the health of horse racing in Kentucky,” Churchill Downs Inc., CEO said in a news release.

Among other prominent races with increases of $250,000 are the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to $1.5 million, the La Troienne (G1) to $1 million, the Churchill Downs to $1 million, and the Derby City Distaff (G1) to $1 million.

One of the most prestigious races in the world for a 3-year-olds, a Derby win usually means a hefty stallion fee upon retirement. With a larger purse, stallion fees could increase as well.

Previously, the Derby purse was $1 million from 1996-2004, and $2 million from 2005-18.

“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 president Mike Anderson said.

Derby week will see 22 stakes races worth a total of $17.5 million in purses (April 27-May 7).

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