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How Much Is The Prize Pool For The Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is the prize among prizes of all United States Thoroughbred races, and it has worldwide renown. There is no doubt that it’s a po profitable race for bettors and for competitors.

Any American who works in the racing industry has dreamt that someday, a horse they lay claim to, in one fashion or another, will win the Kentucky Derby.

Certainly, any time someone declares to a layperson that they work with or own racehorses, the first question they face is inevitable, “Have you won the Kentucky Derby?”

But what does someone actually get if they win the Kentucky Derby? Let’s take a look.

What Horses (And Their Owners) Can Win

The owner (or owners) of the horse are awarded the Kentucky Derby’s prize money, known as a


The full purse of the Kentucky Derby is $3,000,000, but it is not a winner-take-all race. Instead, $1,860,000 goes to the winner, with $600,000, $300,000, $150,000, and $90,000 being parceled out to the owners whose horses run second through fifth.

While that $1.8 million is obviously nothing to sneeze at, however, it pales in comparison to the money that can be made with stud deals for colts who win the Kentucky Derby. Stud fees for a Kentucky Derby winner can be pretty steep, and a particularly well-bred or top-producing specimen can command a six-figure fee.

Some Kentucky Derby winners have had their breeding rights sold while they were still racing. In 2000, Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus made history when his breeding rights were sold to Coolmore Stud for a jaw-dropping $70 million.

What Trainers And Jockeys Can Win

How Much Is The Prize Pool For The Kentucky Derby?

Typically, trainers and jockeys receive about ten percent of the owners’ winnings in major stakes races like the Kentucky Derby in addition to any regular fees. That would mean that the trainer and jockey of this year’s Derby winner could reasonably expect to receive around $186,000 in prize money.

What has the possibility to be more lucrative, however, is the prestige that comes with having worked with and prepared a horse for the Kentucky Derby. High-profile (and deep-pocketed) owners who are looking for trainers and jockeys take the Derby experience seriously, and a single stunning Kentucky Derby performance can hurl a small-time trainer or jockey into the spotlight.

What Bettors Can Win

How Much Is The Prize Pool For The Kentucky Derby?

Those who work with the horses are not the only ones who have the potential to make a killing on Derby day.

Indeed, any adult who places as much as a single bet could collect a tidy profit as long as they pick the right horse.

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Very few bettors liked Rich Strike in last year’s Derby, which is why he left the gate at odds of 80-1. However, placing a two-dollar win bet on him would have netted a person $163.60- not a bad return for such a simple wager!

It is true, however, that the majority of Kentucky Derbies do not have such shocking results. Recent Triple Crown winners American Pharoah and Justify were both favored at about 3-1 in their Runs for the Roses, and a two-dollar win bet on either colt would have returned $7.80. The bettor would make a profit, yes, but it would be quite meager.

If that same bettor, however, had been able to select the second-place horse as well as the winner, then the money would flow in a bit more readily. Selecting Firing Line to finish just behind American Pharoah would have returned $72.60 on a two-dollar exacta while picking Good Magic to run second to Justify would have returned $69.60.

Jess Shaver
Jess Shaver
Online Entrepreneur. Successfully running and operating multiple eCommerce ventures, in between writing about it all.

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