Kentucky Derby For Dummies: What is It And Why Should You Care?

Kentucky Derby For Dummies: What is It And Why Should You Care?

The beginning of the second quarter every year is reserved for the Kentucky Derby since it is the main focus of every horse racing enthusiast. But why?

Well, the Kentucky Derby is one of the most popular horse races in the world where the fastest horses get a chance to compete with one another. The Derby is also the longest-running (uninterrupted) horse race in the U.S that managed to go through two World Wars and the Great Depression dating back to 1875. 

Traditionally, the Kentucky Derby takes place at Churchill Downs racetrack, Louisville, Kentucky, and marks the first leg of the Triple Crown achievement. 

The Kentucky Derby is limited to three-year-olds, and since 1975, 20 horses get a chance to compete in this prestigious race every year. You can click here to find the current contenders for the event:

Derby Week Races

Even though the Kentucky Derby is the main focus of the public, other races last for 6-weeks and offer plenty of entertainment, betting, and fun times for horse racing enthusiasts.  

Most people don’t know that there are a couple of exciting warm-up races before the main event, which suggest arriving at Kentucky at least a week earlier. First of all, you have the Thurby, which is reserved for the Thursday before the derby, as well as the Oaks which is a day before the main event.

Each race has its own signature drinks, food, and entire vibe and on top of that warm-up races are a lot cheaper.

Who Can Participate in the Kentucky Derby?

One of the reasons why the Kentucky Derby is so special is because of its unique qualifying system where only the best horses from the Road to Kentucky races get to participate in the Derby. With that said, the competition cannot go any higher, which promises a lot of action on the racecourse and exciting bets along the way.

Kentucky Derby Prize Purse

Since the entry fee for the Kentucky Derby is a lot of money, especially for late submissions where it can go as high as $25,000, it is expected to have a big prize purse for the best-performing horses.

Fortunately, the Kentucky Derby has one of the biggest prize purses out of all horse races in the world. Last year, the prize purse was set to $3 million, with $1.86 million going to Derby’s winner.

How Many People Watch The Kentucky Derby?

Apart from the lucky 150,000 people who get to experience the “Two most exciting minutes in sports” in person, the Kentucky Derby is also internationally broadcasted and gets a lot of viewership every year.

Last year, the Kentucky Derby was watched by 16.2 million people, according to official data from NBC. On top of that, this calculation doesn’t include the overseas views that people watch on third-party broadcasters.

How Much are Tickets to the Kentucky Derby?

Since we are talking about the most popular and prestigious horse race in the world, the tickets should be expensive, right?

Well, if you are lucky enough to get the Kentucky Derby tickets early, you can get them as low as $65 depending on your sitting area and as high as $10,000 a seat for the Millionaire’s Row.

Betting on the Kentucky Derby

Another important segment of the Kentucky Derby is betting. In fact, this is another reason why it is considered one of the most popular horse racing events in the world.

With more than $200 million wagered every year, it is safe to say that people love betting on big events like the Kentucky Derby. After all, you can win a lot of money if you have a well-structured plan.

Even though most people place their bets without doing any research and going with their gut, the best way to increase your chances is to learn more about the contenders.

Browsing through data from previous races should tell you which horse has the best chance of winning the Derby. 

Derby Fashion

With its long-running tradition, the Kentucky Derby has managed to build a quite interesting reputation for its ultra-high-end fashion on the Derby day. Most people wear bright and vibrant colors, and there are a lot of patterns and flower prints, especially on women’s outfits.

The Kentucky Derby is often attended by celebrities, who also make the event even more special.

So, if you want to stand out from the public, make sure you take your outfit game really seriously.


If you are a horse racing enthusiast, the Kentucky Derby is one of the biggest horse racing events in the world. Compared to other sports, it is like the Super Bowl or the Champions League final, where all the best participants get to compete with each other.

So, if you still haven’t watched the Derby, make sure to tune in on May 7th this year and experience real horse racing magic.

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