If you’re wondering why the Kentucky Derby is one of the most popular sporting events in the world, you should study its rich history. But if you don’t have time to read an entire Wikipedia entry, perhaps the fact that this is a multi-million dollar event will let you understand its insane popularity. The Run for the Roses is undoubtedly a prestigious event that warrants big money for its winners. In fact, the total purse increased by $1 million in 2019, 14 years after the total prize was expanded to $2 million. Today, the Kentucky Derby offers a guaranteed $3 million in prizes for the top-five finishers of the race. It was only just in 2005 when the fifth placer was included in the prize distribution. Prior to that, only the top-four placers receive a cut of the total purse.
Prize Money Breakdown for the 2021 Kentucky Derby on May 1 at the Churchill Downs Race Track
Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky USA
When: May 1 2021, 6:57 PM ET
Triple Crown Lines: Odds on a Triple Crown winner in 2021
TV Broadcast: NBC / Peacock TV
The winning horse this coming Saturday in the first leg of the 2021 Triple Crown stands to get a total of $1.86 million. The runner-up gets $600,000, while the third placer will take home $300,000. The fourth placer will have $150,000, while the fifth-placer will cash in a not-so-shabby $90,000.
In 1954, the purse went past $100,000 for the first time in Kentucky Derby’s history. From 1996 to 2004, the purse was set at $1 million before the purse was increased to $2 million the following year, as mentioned earlier.
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