The Kentucky Derby is the biggest horse race in the world each year. That’s why it’s no surprise that the handle for the Kentucky Derby is also the highest of any race. Millions of people from around the world bet on the Kentucky Derby at various live tracks and online sportsbooks.
While it’s not known how much is bet everywhere, I have pulled up some numbers from Churchill Downs and all North American Racetracks in recent years. Let’s take a look at these betting totals, plus the attendance numbers.
Betting on the Kentucky Derby in 2017 set records across the board, including the simulcast at all North American racetracks. These wagers totaled $139.2 million this year, up from $124.7 million in 2016 and slightly better than the previous record of $137.9 million set in 2015.
Attendance was down at Churchill Downs for the second-straight year and was the lowest since 2013, most likely due to the rainy conditions.
The rain didn’t keep anyone away from the betting window, however, as on-track wagering was way up to $32.8 million in 2017, an increase of over $9 million over 2016. This was by far the biggest amount taken in by Churchill Downs in history, the previous record coming in 2006 at $24.5 million.
It’s important to remember that people can place wagers on the Kentucky Derby at places other than North American racetracks. They can also bet on it in Las Vegas. It’s been reported that Vegas sportsbooks take in about an average of $33 million per month on all bets. Those numbers increase to $44 million in the month of May, and a big portion of that $11 million jump is due to the Kentucky Derby.