- The betting handle on the 148th Kentucky Derby set a new record for the race and the full card.
- Friday’s Kentucky Oaks also set a record for all time race and card betting handle.
- The last horse to get into the field as an ‘also eligible’, 80-1 longshot Rich Strike won the 148th Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Derby had more than one winner this year. 80-1 longshot Rich Strike took the ‘Run for the Roses’ on the track, but Churchill Downs wound up a winner at the betting window. The 148th Kentucky Derby set a new betting handle record for both the race and the full Saturday card at Churchill Downs. That superlative result came on top of a record setting handle in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks as well as a new record for the entire week preceding the Derby.
Wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby Day program totaled $273.8 million, a 17% increase over 2021 and up 9% from the previous record in 2019 of $250.9 million. Wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby race totaled $179.0 million, up 15% over 2021 and up 8% from the previous record of $165.5 million set in 2019. This year’s wagering record includes $8.3 million of handle wagered in Japan. All-sources handle for Derby Week rose to a new record of $391.8 million, up 25% from 2021 and up 14% from the previous record of $343.0 million set in 2019.
TwinSpires–Churchill Downs’ advanced deposit wagering platform–also enjoyed a record day. A press release from Churchill Downs, Incorporated (CDI) gave this information:
TwinSpires, the official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby, handled $67.4 million in wagering on Churchill Downs races for the Kentucky Derby Day program, an increase of 8% over the previous record in 2021. TwinSpires’ handle on the Kentucky Derby race was $44 million, up 8% over last year’s record.
One significant component in a big handle was the return of a huge live crowd at Churchill Downs. For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the race was run without any restrictions resulting in an attendance figure of 147,294. Bill Carstanjen–CEO of CDI–credited the fans with pushing the betting handle to a new record:
“We are deeply grateful to all of the fans of the Kentucky Derby around the world who once again made this an amazing and memorable experience. We expect the Kentucky Derby Week Adjusted EBITDA to reflect another record with $7 to $9 million of growth over the prior record in 2019.”
The victory of 80-1 underdog also-eligible Rich Strike was the big story of the race. Unheraled jockey Sonny Leon–who ran six races at Belterra Park outside of Cincinnati on Friday–turned in one of the definitive rides by a jockey in Kentucky Derby history. He came from behind and took advantage of the blistering early pace to become the upset winner of the Kentucky Derby. Rich Strike was the biggest longshot in the race, and is now the second highest priced horse to ever win the Kentucky Derby behind 91-1 Donerail in 1913.
Despite the big betting handle, the money in the win pool for Rich Strike was negligible. Out of the $179 million bet on the race, only $501,135 of that pool was on Rich Strike to win. For those of you scoring at home, that represents just 0.279%. In Nevada, there were some futures wagers on Rich Strike that cashed at prices of up to 200-1. The Las Vegas Review-Journal spoke to some bookmakers around town and it turns out that the race was decidedly a mixed bag. Worth noting that sportsbooks took action on futures odds and matchups, so the outcome at the racebook is a different matter entirely.
Circa Sports ended up a small loser on futures bets from small wagers placed on Rich Strike at 200-1, 150-1 and 100-1. Circa horse racing oddsmaker Paul Zilm said these bets were the difference between a small loss and a win:
“People love their long shots. Some people got some big numbers, and that liability adds up quickly. It wasn’t anything significant, but if any of the horses behind him win, we’re definitely on the positive side.”
It was a different story over at the Westgate SuperBook–they were a big winner on the Kentucky Derby futures book despite a few bets on Rich Strike at 100-1. SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said it was their best Kentucky Derby futures performance ever:
“The result was, by far, the best we ever did for the Derby odds future book.”
SuperBook director John Murray actually wished that more bettors cashed parimutuel tickets on the Derby:
“We didn’t have a ton of tickets to cash. I’d like the room to be packed with people cashing big trifecta tickets, because you know a lot of that money is going to be run back through the window.”
Caesars Sportsbook and Red Rock Resort owned Stations Casinos were also winners despite paying out a few exactas and trifectas. The 21-3 $2.00 Exacta paid $4,101.20, the 21-3-10 50 cent Trifecta paid $7,435.35.