Kentucky Derby Purse Raised to Record $5 Million; 50-Race Spring Meet Stakes Menu Totals Record $26.5 Million

  • 38 Stakes Races Receive Significant Boosts Totaling $5.1 Million
  • Kentucky Oaks Boosted to $1.5 Million
  • All Grade I Events Worth Minimum $1 Million

LOUISVILLE, KY., (January 10, 2024) The landmark 150th Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) on Saturday, May 4 will be the richest in history as the purse for America’s greatest race has been elevated to a guaranteed $5 million.

The substantial $2 million increase to the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby for 3-year-olds highlights a record-setting, 50-race stakes schedule cumulatively worth $25.6 million for Churchill Downs’ 2024 Spring Meet, which will be run over 43 dates from April 27-June 30.

Prize money for the stakes schedule increased 25% or $5.1 million from last year’s $20.5 million lineup thanks to Churchill Downs Incorporated’s investment into historical horse racing, which supercharges funding for purses.

Prior to the debut of historical horse racing at CDI’s Derby City Gaming in September 2018, that year’s Spring Meet featured 32 stakes races worth $8.8 million. There are now 18 additional Spring Meet stakes, and prize money for horsemen in those events has grown 190% or by $16.8 million.

“These record purse increases are a symbol of the health of horse racing in Kentucky,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated. “Churchill Downs Incorporated’s over $1 billion investment into live and historical horse racing in Kentucky over the last five years has meaningfully strengthened the entire Kentucky Derby Week and year-round racing program. It’s important to acknowledge the state legislature for its commitment to working closely with private enterprise in a truly collaborative partnership to support the continued growth of Kentucky’s signature industry.”

Thirty-eight of the 2024 Spring Meet stakes races received significant purse hikes, including $250,000 boosts to each of the following: the $1.5 million Kentucky Oaks (GI); $1 million La Troienne (GI); $1 million Churchill Downs presented by Ford (GI); $1 million Derby City Distaff presented by Kendall-Jackson Winery (GI); and $750,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII). Each of the track’s seven Grade I events, including the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic and Stephen Foster, feature a minimum $1 million purse.

With a record $5 million in prize money now guaranteed for the Kentucky Derby, the winner will receive the event’s highly sought-after gold trophy, a $3.1 million payday and possibly millions more as a stallion after retirement from racing. Also, $1 million will be awarded to the runner-up, $500,000 to third, $250,000 to fourth and $150,000 to fifth.

Previously, the Kentucky Derby purse had been worth $3 million since 2019, and was $2 million from 2005-18 and $1 million from 1996-2004.

“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,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Mike Anderson. “Through the purses generated by the racing association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund, Kentucky horsemen and horsewomen are reaping the benefits of Churchill Downs Incorporated’s historic investment as we celebrate this year’s milestone 150th Kentucky Derby.”

At $1.5 million, the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks – the Derby’s sister race staged one day prior on Friday, May 3 – remains the nation’s most lucrative race for 3-year-old fillies. It had been worth $1.25 million since 2019, and was $1 million from 2011-18 and $500,000 from 1996-2010.

All told, there will be a record 22 stakes races cumulatively worth $17.5 million staged over Kentucky Derby Week (April 27-May 7), including nine stakes totaling $10.8 million on Derby Day and seven totaling $5.3 million on Oaks Day.

Four races on Kentucky Derby Week will offer horses an entry and travel incentive to run in some of Europe’s most prestigious races. The winner of the Old Forester Turf Classic (GI) will receive a berth to either the one-mile Queen Anne Stakes (GI) or the 1 ¼-mile Prince of Wales’ Stakes (GI) at Royal Ascot in mid-June. Earlier on the Kentucky Derby Day program, the winner of the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GII) will receive an entry to the King’s Charles III Stakes (GI) (formerly known as the King’s Stand), also staged at Royal Ascot. Three-year-old turf specialists in the American Turf (GII) and Edgewood (GII) can receive their entry to either the Betfred Derby (GI) or Betfred Oaks (GI) at Epsom Downs. The winner of the American Turf on Kentucky Derby Day will receive an entry and travel stipend to compete in the Betfred Derby while the winner of the Edgewood on Kentucky Oaks Day will receive the same benefits for the Betfred Oaks.

The first condition book of scheduled races is being finalized by Vice President of Racing Ben Huffman and is expected to be published in late January. More than $57 million in total prize money is expected to be offered during this year’s Spring Meet (pending Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund final approval). Purses for maiden races will be $120,000 while allowance races will range from $127,000 to $141,000.

Spring Meet stall applications are due Friday, March 1. Following its annual closure for wintertime renovations, the Churchill Downs stable area will reopen Tuesday, March 19. The first day of training on the main dirt track will be Friday, March 22.

For the second consecutive year, Churchill Downs Incorporated’s nearby Trackside Louisville, which accommodates more than 500 horses, has remained open year-round for wintertime stabling and training for racing at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky.

2024 CHURCHILL DOWNS SPRING MEET STAKES SCHEDULE

DateRunningGradePurse+ vs. 2023RaceConditionsDistanceSurface
Saturday, April 2714th$200,000$25,000Roxelana Overnight Stakes4&up, f&m6 FDirt
Wednesday, May 19thListed$300,000$75,000William Walker3yo5 ½ FTurf
Wednesday, May 16th$200,000$25,000Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes4&up1 ½ MDirt
Thursday, May 219thListed$350,000$50,000Opening Verse4&up1 MTurf
Thursday, May 230th$250,000$50,000Kentucky Juvenile2yo5 FDirt
Thursday, May 23rd$200,000$25,000St. Matthews Overnight Stakes4&up ®6 FDirt
Friday, May 3150thI$1,500,000$250,000Kentucky Oaks3yo f1 1/8 MDirt
Friday, May 339thI$1,000,000$250,000La Troienne4&up, f&m1 1/16 MDirt
Friday, May 321stII$750,000$150,000Alysheba presented by Sentient Jet4&up1 1/16 MDirt
Friday, May 369thII$600,000$100,000Eight Belles3yo f7 FDirt
Friday, May 340thII$600,000$100,000Edgewood presented by Forcht Bank3yo f1 1/16 MTurf
Friday, May 367thIII$400,000$100,000Modesty4&up, f&m1 1/8 MTurf
Friday, May 314thIII$400,000$100,000Unbridled Sidney presented by Sysco3&up, f&m5 ½ FTurf
Saturday, May 7150thI$5,000,000$2,000,000Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve3yo1 ¼ MDirt
Saturday, May 738thI$1,000,000Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic4&up1 1/8 MTurf
Saturday, May 789thI$1,000,000$250,000Churchill Downs presented by Ford4&up7 FDirt
Saturday, May 738thI$1,000,000$250,000Derby City Distaff presented by Kendall-Jackson Winery4&up, f&m7 FDirt
Saturday, May 739thII$750,000$250,000Churchill Distaff Turf Mile4&up, f&m1 MTurf
Saturday, May 730thII$600,000$100,000Twin Spires Turf Sprint3&up5 ½ FTurf
Saturday, May 7100thII$600,000$100,000Pat Day Mile3yo1 MDirt
Saturday, May 733rdII$600,000$100,000American Turf3yo1 1/16 MTurf
Saturday, May 73rdListed ®$200,000$25,000Knicks Go Overnight Stakes4&up ®1 MDirt
Saturday, May 115thListed$225,000Mamzelle3yo f5 ½ FTurf
Saturday, May 1887thIII$250,000$25,000Louisville4&up1 ½ MTurf
Saturday, May 2511thListed$250,000$25,000Keertana4&up, f&m1 ½ MTurf
Monday, May 2721stIII$250,000$25,000Winning Colors4&up, f&m6 FDirt
Saturday, June 15thIII$275,000$50,000Blame4&up1 1/8 MDirt
Saturday, June 15thIII$275,000$50,000Shawnee4&up, f&m1 1/16 MDirt
Saturday, June 188thIII$275,000$50,000Arlington4&up1 1/16 MTurf
Saturday, June 155thIII$275,000$50,000Regret3yo f1 1/8 MTurf
Saturday, June 136thListed$275,000$50,000Aristides4&up6 FDirt
Saturday, June 15thListed$275,000$50,000Audubon3yo1 1/8 MTurf
Sunday, June 248thIII$250,000$25,000Old Forester Mint Julep4&up, f&m1 1/16 MTurf
Saturday, June 88thListed$225,000Mighty Beau3&up5 FTurf
Sunday, June 927thIII$400,000Matt Winn3yo1 1/16 MDirt
Sunday, June 93rd$175,000Leslie’s Lady Overnight Stakes3yo f7 FDirt
Saturday, June 153rd$175,000Monomoy Girl Overnight Stakes3yo f1 1/16 MDirt
Saturday, June 152nd$175,000Chorleywood Overnight Stakes4&up1 3/8 MTurf
Saturday, June 2234thIII$250,000$25,000Chicago4&up, f&m7 FDirt
Saturday, June 2943rdI$1,000,000Stephen Foster4&up1 1/8 MDirt
Saturday, June 2949thII$500,000$100,000Fleur de Lis4&up, f&m1 1/8 MDirt
Saturday, June 2935thII$500,000$100,000Wise Dan4&up1 1/16 MTurf
Saturday, June 29109thListed$250,000$25,000American Derby3yo1 1/16 MTurf
Saturday, June 295thListed$250,000$25,000Tepin3yo f1 MTurf
Saturday, June 2914thListed$250,000$25,000Kelly’s Landing3&up6 ½ FDirt
Sunday, June 303rd$175,000Anchorage Overnight Stakes4&up, f&m1 1/8 MTurf
Sunday, June 303rdListed$175,000Maxfield Overnight Stakes3yo7 FDirt
Sunday, June 3071stListed$300,000$25,000Hanshin presented by JRA4&up1 MDirt
Sunday, June 30123rdListed$225,000Bashford Manor2yo6 FDirt
Sunday, June 30123rdListed$225,000Debutante2yo f6 FDirt

Every stakes race, excluding Grade I events, includes Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund prize money.

All Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund purse allotments are subject to KHRC approval.

About Churchill Downs Racetrack

Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”), the world’s most legendary racetrack, has been the home of The Kentucky Derby, the longest continually held annual sporting event in the United States, since 1875. Located in Louisville, CDRT features a series of themed race days during Derby Week, including the Kentucky Oaks, and conducts Thoroughbred horse racing during three race meets in the Spring, September, and the Fall. CDRT is located on 175 acres and has a one-mile dirt track, a 7/8-mile turf track, a stabling area, and provides seating for approximately 60,000 guests. The stable area has barns sufficient to accommodate 1,400 horses and a 114-room dormitory for backstretch personnel. CDRT also has a year-round simulcast wagering facility and Race & Sports Book. www.ChurchillDowns.com.

This news release contains various “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by the use of terms such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “predict,” “project,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” and similar words or similar expressions (or negative versions of such words or expressions).

Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Important factors, that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations include the following: the occurrence of extraordinary events, such as terrorist attacks, public health threats, civil unrest, and inclement weather, including as a result of climate change; the effect of economic conditions on our consumers' confidence and discretionary spending or our access to credit, including the impact of inflation; additional or increased taxes and fees; the impact of any pandemics, epidemics, or outbreaks of infectious diseases, including the impact of any future developments related to COVID-19, and related economic matters on our results of operations, financial conditions and prospects; lack of confidence in the integrity of our core businesses or any deterioration in our reputation; loss of key or highly skilled personnel, as well as general disruptions in the general labor market; the impact of significant competition, and the expectation the competition levels will increase; changes in consumer preferences, attendance, wagering, and sponsorships; risks associated with equity investments, strategic alliances and other third-party agreements; inability to respond to rapid technological changes in a timely manner; concentration and evolution of slot machine and historical racing machine (HRM) manufacturing and other technology conditions that could impose additional costs; failure to enter into or maintain agreements with industry constituents, including horsemen and other racetracks; inability to successfully focus on market access and retail operations for our TwinSpires Sports and Casino business and effectively compete; online security risk, including cyber-security breaches, or loss or misuse of our stored information as a result of a breach including customers’ personal information could lead to government enforcement actions or other litigations; reliance on our technology services and catastrophic events and system failures disrupting our operations; inability to identify, complete, or fully realize the benefits of our proposed acquisitions, divestitures, development of new venues or the expansion of existing facilities on time, on budget, or as planned; difficulty in integrating recent or future acquisitions into our operations; cost overruns and other uncertainties associated with the development of new venues and the expansion of existing facilities; general risks related to real estate ownership and significant expenditures, including risks related to environmental liabilities; personal injury litigation related to injuries occurring at our racetracks; compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or other similar laws and regulations, or applicable anti-money laundering regulations; payment-related risks, such as risk associated with fraudulent credit card or debit card use; work stoppages and labor problems; risks related to pending or future legal proceedings and other actions; highly regulated operations and changes in the regulatory environment could adversely affect our business; restrictions in our debt facilities limiting our flexibility to operate our business; failure to comply with the financial ratios and other covenants in our debt facilities and other indebtedness; increases to interest rates (due to inflation or otherwise), disruption in the credit markets or changes to our credit ratings may adversely affect our business; increase in our insurance costs, or inability to obtain similar insurance coverage in the future, and any inability to recover under our insurance policies for damages sustained at our properties in the event of inclement weather and casualty events; and other factors described under the heading “Risk Factors” in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and in other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

We do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

Media Contacts

Darren Rogers
Senior Director, Communications & Media Services
Churchill Downs Racetrack

 

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