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Kentucky Derby Purse 2024: How Much Prize Money Will The Churchill Downs Winner Get?

Andy Newton
Kentucky Derby Purse

The 150th renewal of the ‘Run For The Roses’ on Saturday May 4 has seen the 2024 Kentucky Derby purse increase to $5,000,000, with the winning horse now banking a cool $3,100,000 in prize money – up 66% from 2023. 

Kentucky Derby Purse Boosted To $5m For 150th Running

US horse racing owners eyeing up a win in the first leg of the Triple Crown – the Kentucky Derby – have been given an extra boost ahead of the 2024 edition, with Churchill Downs increasing the total purse.

Prize money is up to $5,000,000 from $3,000,000 in 2023, with this year’s renewal now the richest its ever been and within touching distance of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is still the most lucrative horse race in North America, with a $7,000,000 purse.

How The $5m Kentucky Derby Purse Is Broken Down

That boosted Kentucky Derby purse isn’t ‘winner takes all’, so the good news for the horses that finish in the top five is they can also walk away with some cash.

Of course, the winning Kentucky Derby horse will take the biggest slice of the Churchill Downs pie, banking $3,100,000 for their owners. However, the runner-up (second) will still collect $1,000,000, and this is how the total purse is divided:

  • 1st: $3,100,000
  • 2nd: $1,000,000
  • 3rd: $500,000
  • 4th: $250,000
  • 5th: $150,000

2023 to 2024 Kentucky Derby Purse Payouts and Increases

The 2023 Churchill Downs winner Mage, who returned a $32.42 Kentucky Derby payout that year, landed $1.86m for his connections. However, the successful horse in 2024 will now get $3.1m. Which is a massive $1.24m more.




% Increase

1st $1,860,000 $3,100,000 66%
2nd $600,000 $1,000,000 66%
3rd $300,000 $500,000 66%
4th $150,000 $250,000 66%
5th $90,000 $150,000 66%
Total Purse $3,000,000 $5,000,000 66%

75% Of The Kentucky Derby Runners WON’T Win A Cent 

It’s the taking part that counts – right? Well, tell that to the other 15 horses and their owners that won’t finish in the top five. This is because those who finish 6th (or worse) won’t qualify for a share of the Kentucky Derby purse.

What that means is this. In a full field of 20 Kentucky Derby runners, 75% will walk away with just the experience of telling their family and friends they had a runner in the big Triple Crown race.

How The Kentucky Derby Purse Has Increased Over The Years 

Over the years, the Kentucky Derby prize money has increased substantially since it was first run in 1875. Aristides, who was the first of the previous Kentucky Derby winners that year, won $2,850.

Other notable increases through the years have been in 1954, when the Kentucky Derby purse increased to $100,000. Then in 1995 it hit the $1,000,000 mark.

A decade later in 2005, the prize fund jumped up to $2,000,000. Then, in 2019, Churchill Downs boosted it again to $3,000,000. The purse stayed at this figure until now with the rise up to $5,000,000.

Notable Kentucky Derby Purse Changes Over The Years

  • $2,850 – First Ever Purse
  • 1954 –  $100,000 Purse
  • 1995 – $1,000,000 Purse
  • 2005 – $2,000,000 Purse
  • 2019 – $3,000,000 Purse
  • 2024 – $5,000,000 Purse

Kentucky Oaks Purse Also Boosted In 2024 

In tandem with the Kentucky Derby, its sister race – the Kentucky Oaks – also received a cash injection in 2024. The fillies’ race, which will be run the day before the Derby on Friday, May 3, has been increased by $250,000 – up to a purse of $1,500,000 (from $1,250,000).

How Does the Kentucky Derby Purse Compare To The Other Triple Crown Races?

The Triple Crown is made up of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, with the Churchill Down ‘Run For The Roses’ first up on May 4. There have been 13 horses to land the Triple Crown over the years – all three races – with the first Sir Barton in 1919 and the most recent Justify in 2018.

So, how do the purses for the three Triple Crown races compare? We now know the Kentucky Derby carries a total prize haul of $5,000,000 and this Churchill Downs contest sits top of the ‘purse tree’ – but which race comes next?

Well actually – they both do. The Preakness Stakes, which is the second leg of the Triple Crown, and the Belmont Stakes both currently carry a purse of $2,000,000.

This year, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico will be run on Saturday, May 17. While the Belmont Stakes, which will take place at Saratoga due to Belmont Park being renovated, is on Saturday, June 8.

  • Kentucky Derby: $5m
  • Preakness Stakes: $2m
  • Belmont Stakes: $2m

WATCH: Mage Winning The 2023 Kentucky Derby

Relive the Kentucky Derby 2023 as Mage, who has now been retired to stud, storms to victory in the famous Churchill Downs race.


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Andy Newton
Andy Newton

Andy Newton is a horse racing handicapper who specializes in key race trends for the biggest events in sport around the world. His statistical approach to finding winners is one that has paid off time and time again. Check out the latest trends and Kentucky Derby stats from Andy on the site.