It was ideal weather for the 141st running of the $2-million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands as a record 170,513 fans, the highest attendance in Derby history, watched American Pharoah take home the garland of roses in the final stretch. Prior attendance record of 165,307 was set in 2012 when I'll Have Another won the 138th Kentucky Derby.
Wagering from all-sources was the highest all-time on both the Kentucky Derby Day program and on the Kentucky Derby race.
Wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby Day program totaled $194.3 million, an increase of 4% over the 2014 total of $186.6 million, and an increase of 4% over the previous record set in 2012 of $187.0 million. Wagering from all-sources on the Kentucky Derby race increased 7% to $137.9 million from 2014's $129.2 million and a 4% increase over the previous record set in 2012 of $133.1 million.
On-track wagering on the Kentucky Derby program of $23.0 million declined 2% from $23.4 million in 2014. On-track wagering on the Kentucky Derby race totaled $12.0 million, an increase of 1% over 2014's $11.9 million.
Churchill Downs returned $154.3 million to bettors on the Kentucky Derby Day race program. Additionally, purses earned from the Kentucky Derby Day race program approximated $10.7 million that will be paid out to horsemen during the remainder of the 2015 race meets.
“We congratulate the connections of American Pharoah on his victory in this year's 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “It was truly a team effort here at Churchill Downs and I want to thank the horses, jockeys, trainers, owners and employees who created an extraordinary opening week and an unforgettable Derby day. We look forward to an impressive 2015 Spring Meet.”
“The Kentucky Derby is an awe-inspiring spectacle and all of us who work here feel privileged to be a part of this experience,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated. “We saw continued improvement again this year and we preliminarily expect record Adjusted EBITDA with growth over last year's Kentucky Oaks and Derby week of $5.0-to-$6.5 million.”
Bettors took full advantage of TwinSpires.com and the new TwinSpires app for iOS devices to handicap, place wagers, and watch live races. For Derby Day, TwinSpires, the country's leading online betting platform, handle on all Churchill Downs races for the Kentucky Derby Day program totaled $20.8 million, up 17% over $17.8 million in 2014. For the Kentucky Derby race itself, handle totaled a record $13.2 million on TwinSpires, up 17% from $11.3 million in 2014.
All-sources handle for Opening Night, Saturday, April 25, through Derby Day, Saturday, May 2, rose to a record $263.3 million, up 4% from 2014's $253.8 million, and 2% over the record set in 2013. Attendance for those five days was a record, up 5% to 365,006 from 348,530 in 2014 and up 1.5% over the previous record set in 2011.
American Pharoah, owned and bred in Kentucky by Ahmed Zayat, passed runner-up Firing Line in deep stretch to win by a length as the 5-2 favorite, returning $7.80 for each $2 win wager. Trainer Bob Baffert won for the fourth time with prior victories coming in 1997 with Silver Charm, 1998 with Real Quiet, and 2002 with War Emblem. Baffert also saddled third-place finisher Dortmund. It was the third Kentucky Derby triumph for jockey Victor Espinoza, who won the race in 2002 aboard War Emblem and last year on California Chrome.
The winner covered 1 1/4 miles over a fast track in 2:03.02 for his fifth consecutive win and his fifth victory in six career races. The victory was worth $1.4 million and increased American Pharoah's earnings to $2.8 million.
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