Latest Kentucky Derby pulls in a record $320M from race wagering

Updated May 11, 2024
Updated May 11, 2024By Chris Boline
kentucky betting news may 2024

Following one of the most dramatic finishes in race history, the Kentucky Derby had more good news to share following Mystik Dan’s triumphant win at the 150th Derby contest. According to a recent report, shares of Churchill Downs notched some upside on the Monday following the race after the gaming company said wagering on that Saturday’s Kentucky Derby hit an all-time high. That was true of the Kentucky Derby Day program and the entire slate of Derby Week offerings. Mystik Dan, an 18-1 shot, claimed the 150th running of the first leg of the Triple Crown. Per a statement from Churchill Downs, “wagering from all sources on the Kentucky Derby Day program set a new record of $320.5 million, beating last year’s record of $288.7 million. 

For this report, SBS will be going over the latest gaming news from the state of Kentucky along with more notes about Bluegrass State wagering. 

Combined wagering revenue a huge hit for 2024 Derby

Also noted in the release, all-sources wagering on the Kentucky Derby race was a record of $210.7 million, beating the previous record of $188.7 million set in 2023. All-sources handle for Derby Week rose to a new record of $446.6 million, beating last year’s record of $412.0 million. All of this information was issued by the Louisville-based Churchill Downs. According to another article, the Derby arrived at just the right time for Churchill Downs investors as the stock entered Monday in the midst of a run that’s seen it surge 12.3% over the past month, helped by a strong first-quarter earnings report delivered in late April. 

Churchill Downs also noted that this year’s Kentucky Derby brought new records for the operator’s TwinSpires unit. Noted in the release, handle for the Derby Day program at TwinSpires jumped to a new record of $92.1 million, easily surpassing the 2023 tally of $75.5 million. For the Derby itself, TwinSpires handled $60.9 million in wagers – also a new record and well ahead of the previous all-time high of $48.9 million set last year. The best viewership of the Derby on NBC in 35 years was another catalyst for TwinSpires

TwinSpires critical in maximizing Derby Week revenue

As noted in another report, TwinSpires, which was the subject of takeover speculation several years ago, played a pivotal role in helping the parent company realize record Derby Week earnings. This was of course before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of $26 million to $28 million. That forecast was highlighted in the press release by Churchill CEO Bill Carstanjen. Separately, it appears as though new amenities at the iconic Kentucky track, including a new paddock, paid dividends for the operator. 

One party noted a couple of reasons for the increased revenue growth. “One, enthusiasm, and hence incremental pricing power, around the 150th running. Two, the debut of the transformational $200M Paddock Project, and three, the residual ticket yield left to capture following the debut of the First Turn Experience last year. Regarding the Paddock Project, our checks suggest solid customer feedback on the new and unique viewing product,” Stifel analyst Jeffry Stantial said in a note to clients. 

Churchill Downs sees more diversified profit streams

Per the same article, while the Kentucky Derby is one of the most beloved events on the U.S. sports calendar, it’s long attracted horses owned by foreign entities, but the ties don’t end there. Though Japan is still a small part of the overall Derby betting, it’s a growing sector. With Japanese horses Forever Young and T O Password finishing third and fifth, respectively, in the Derby, Churchill’s Europe and Japan “Road to Derby” initiative appears to be paying off

“We believe two top-five positions for Japanese starters should help further cultivate interest abroad, helping CHDN unlock a sizable wagering total addressable market and attract incremental wealthy international visitation,” added Stantial. He also highlighted historical racing machine (HRM) venues in Kentucky and Virginia as well as a new regional casino in Terre Haute, Ind. as potential catalysts for the stock going forward. 

While the race event was clearly an economic success for Churchill Downs, the race itself was a spectacular one. Mystik Dan won in a three-way photo finish, at 18:1 odds and this was the first nose margin victory in this event since the 1996 Kentucky Derby. Moreover, per multiple outlets, NBC’s broadcast averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 16.7 million viewers with a peak viewership of 20.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched running of the race since 1989. Prior to the race, NBC and Churchill Downs announced an extension of NBC’s broadcasting rights to last through 2032. 

Additional thoughts and notes for Kentucky betting

Once you are all dialed in regards to the latest gaming updates and notes coming from Kentucky, make sure to also tap into the large array of info available to you at SBS. Of course, for even more insights on the topic covered here, the Kentucky sports betting guide has you covered with all of the latest news from the state. Conversely, for those interested in diversifying their deposit and withdrawal options, look no further than the payment methods breakdown where you can find options from cryptocurrencies to traditional banking routes. Finally, given the other topic covered here, the horse racing betting sites rundown is a fantastic page to explore too for horse racing fans. 

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About the Author

Chris Boline
Chris Boline

As a devout aficionado of sports, Chris Boline has carved a career within the athletic realm. A skilled scribe, he boasts a decade-long portfolio that encompasses coverage of the NBA G League, the Los Angeles Chargers, football in the Mountain West Conference, and basketball. Beyond his professional pursuits, Chris is deeply invested in his community and dedicates his leisure hours to serving on boards, collaborating with community organizations, and cherishing the company of loved ones.

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