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Posted 2024-01-10 19:04:47  
150th Kentucky Derby gets Huge Prize jump

The prize money for the 150th Kentucky Derby on May 4 is set to reach a record $5 million, marking a significant boost of $2 million. This increase is part of a broader cash injection into Churchill Downs' spring meet, where 50 stakes races will now be worth a total of $25.6 million, reflecting a growth of just over $5 million from the previous year.

Since 2019, the Derby has been contested for a $3 million purse, a significant increase from the $2 million purse set in 2005. Prior to that, the race ran for $1 million from 1996 to 2004. The inaugural Derby in 1875 had a humble purse of $1,000, equivalent to almost $29,000 in 2004 dollars.

With this boost, the winner's share for the Derby will surge from $1.86 million to $3.1 million. The runner-up will receive $1 million, the third-place finisher $500,000, the fourth $250,000, and the fifth $150,000. The Kentucky Oaks will also see a purse increase, reaching $1.5 million.

A noteworthy aspect is the record 22 stakes races during Kentucky Derby week, totaling $17.5 million. On Kentucky Derby day, nine stakes races worth $10.8 million will be run, complemented by seven stakes races totaling $5.3 million on Kentucky Oaks Day.

Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO Bill Carstanjen sees these purse increases as a positive indicator of the health of horse racing in Kentucky. He attributes the growth to the company's $1 billion investment in live and historical horse racing over the past five years, emphasizing the collaborative partnership with the state legislature.

The introduction of historical horse racing at CDI's Derby City Gaming in September 2018 has played a role in this growth. The Spring Meet now features 18 additional stakes races, with prize money for participants in these events increasing by an impressive 190%, amounting to $16.8 million.

Churchill Downs Racetrack President Mike Anderson expresses satisfaction with the steady expansion of the racing product and the broader Kentucky horse racing and breeding industry. He emphasizes the benefits reaped by Kentucky horsemen and horsewomen due to Churchill Downs Incorporated's historic investment, particularly as they celebrate the 150th Kentucky Derby. 

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