Kentucky Derby Once Again Breaks Betting Records for Churchill Downs

Posted on: May 5, 2019, 03:37h. 

Last updated on: May 5, 2019, 03:37h.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs produced yet another record-setting weekend as wagering on the Kentucky Derby card eclipsed a quarter-billion dollars for the first time.

Horses break from the starting gate in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. More than $165 million was bet on the race.(Image: Churchill Downs)

The total handle from Saturday’s 14-race card reached $250.9 million. Nearly two-thirds of that money was put on the Derby, as the betting public wagered $165.5 million on the Run for the Roses.

Those figures broke records that were set last year as $225.7 million was bet on the entire race day card and $149.9 million was bet on the Derby itself.

Those figures include money bet from all sources, including the Louisville track, other racing, and off-track betting venues as well as online betting applications.

This year also marked the first time betting on the Derby was available in Japan, where $4.1 million was bet on the race.

Country House, at 65-1, ended up becoming the second-longest shot in Derby history to win. However, controversy clouded his victory as stewards placed the Bill Mott-trained horse in the top spot after disqualifying apparent winner Maximum Security for interfering other horses coming out of the final turn.

More Records Broken

Friday’s race card brought in $60.2 million in wagers, topping the records $55.8 million set last year. Nearly a third of that money was bet on the Kentucky Oaks, the Grade I stakes race for three-year-old fillies. Betting on that race increased by 10 percent to $19.4 million, also bettering the record $17.5 million set last year.

Betting for the Derby Week card, which included five live racing dates from April 27 to Saturday, totaled $343 million. That figure was also 10 percent higher than the previous record of $311.2 million set last year.

We expect the Kentucky Derby Week Adjusted EBITDA to reflect another record with $4.5-to-$6.0 million of growth over last year,” said Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen, referring to the company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, in a statement Saturday night.

That figure bodes well for Churchill Downs Inc., which owns and operates race tracks and casinos across the country. The company notes in its annual report that “a significant portion” of its racing revenue during Derby week.

In 2018, CDI’s net revenue from racing total $295.4 million, an 18.8 percent increase from 2017. That jump came because of a 21 percent jump in year-to-year revenue at the company’s flagship and namesake track, which generated $193.7 million in 2018.

The company’s racing-segment EBITDA was $92.4 million in 2018.

The only number to decline was attendance thanks to on-and-off rains. Overall attendance for the five days totaled 360,237, a four percent decline from the previous year. Oaks Day attendance dropped seven percent from 2018 to 105,719, while a soggy Derby Day drew a crowd of 150,729. That represented a four percent drop from 2018.

It’s the fourth straight year Derby Day attendance has dropped.

More Money Bet Online

However, as the handle figures show, while more fans stayed home, they still found a way to place their bets.

Churchill Downs officials said TwinSpires, the company’s online betting portal, handled $48.4 million in bets. That figure rose 20 percent from 2018. Derby bets accounted for $30.2 million of that total, which marked a 23 percent jump.

TwinSpires is available in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.