2024 Kentucky Derby Breaks Betting Handle Record

  • The 150th Kentucky Derby broke viewership and betting handle records on Saturday.
  • The total amount of money wagered was up 10% from the 2023 Kentucky Derby.
  • Mystic Dan (18-1) won the 150th Kentucky Derby in a nail-biter over Sierra Leone and Forever Young.

The 150th Kentucky Derby is officially the edition that gathered the most bets ever. According to Churchill Downs, $320.5 million was wagered on the Kentucky Derby 2024 card. Last year, Churchill Downs reported $288.7 in bets on the 149th Kentucky Derby card.

This includes the entire 14-race card, which features eight stakes’ races and the Kentucky Derby. $210.7 million was wagered on the Kentucky Derby alone, surpassing the previous record of $188.7 million from a year ago.

Churchill Downs officials were thrilled with the numbers leading up to the race, too. Derby Week saw an all-source betting handle of $446.6 million, eclipsing the $412 million from 2023.

Note that this does not include betting figures from online sportsbooks and off-track betting operators who are not affiliated with Churchill Downs’ parimutuel pool.

Taking these unreported numbers into consideration, the actual numbers far exceed the official handle from Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby Handle Bucks Gloomy Trend From 2023

While the Kentucky Derby broke betting records, the horse racing industry overall did not have a great year in 2023. The total horse racing handle dropped by roughly 4%, the largest decrease in 12 years.

Per Equibase, $11.6 billion in bets were placed on 31,746 races compared to $12.1 billion on 33,452 races in 2022. This equates to a 3.7% drop, the largest drop since the 5.7% decrease in 2011.

Four of the last five years have witnessed a decline in wagers. 2021 was the lone exception due to other sports being halted due to the Covid-19 lockdowns. However, there is some optimism after the Kentucky Derby shattered expectations.

The gamblers weren’t simply betting on the Kentucky Derby, they also targeted the undercard and events during the week, including the Kentucky Oaks. Convincing bettors to gamble on less marquee events throughout the year has to be the focus.

The Triple Crown, which includes the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, will likely continue to be widely bet on. Perhaps the key is making the sport more accessible on major TV networks. The 150th Kentucky Derby broadcast saw incredible numbers on NBC.

Kentucky Derby Hits TV Viewership Milestone

In addition to record-breaking betting numbers, the biggest number of people watched the Kentucky Derby broadcast since 1989.

The peak viewership for the Kentucky Derby reached 20.1 million from between 7:00 to 7:15 p.m. ET. More than 20 million people watched Mystik Dan speed to a win by a nose as an 18-1 longshot.

The 16.7 million viewers for ratings across the entire broadcast, marking a 13% increase from last year’s 14.8 million viewers. Additionally, this is the most-watched Kentucky Derby since Sunday Silence won the “Run for the Roses” in 1989.

Mystik Dan’s win by a nose over Sierra Leone and Forever Young is the closest three-way finish since the 1947 Kentucky Derby! The second leg of the Triple Crown is scheduled for Saturday, May 18, at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Kyle Eve
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Kyle Eve is a seasoned pro of The Sports Geek. Since joining the team in 2012, Kyle, has covered some of the biggest sporting events in the world. From the Super Bowl and World Series to March Madness, the NBA Finals, Kentucky Derby, and many more, Kyle has provided reliable analysis for millions of readers. After dedicating himself to hockey and football in high school, Kyle placed his first sports bet on his 18th birthday. Since then, he has spent his entire adult life devoting himself to becoming the best sports bettor and casino gambler possible. Kyle is from Windsor, ON, Canada

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