Kentucky Derby Wagering Soars to Record Levels; Attendance Increases

Edited release from Churchill Downs
One of the most successful renewals of the Kentucky Derby in the 129-year history of Churchill Downs saw the historic track shatter across-the-board records for on-track and simulcast wagering and demolish its year-old North American record for betting on a single event and race day.

Total wagering on the 12-race Kentucky Derby Day program at Churchill Downs, which includes on-track and simulcast betting, totaled $140,250,590. The 2003 total was an increase of 13.8 percent over the previous record of $123,233,111 established a year earlier on an 11-race card highlighted by the 128th Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Derby itself, won by Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide, attracted record total wagering of $87,663,663. The total set a North American standard for wagering on a single race and reflected an increase of 10.83 percent over the previous record of $79,095,311 wagered on the 2002 Derby won by War Emblem.

An on-track crowd of 148,530, the fifth largest in Derby history, wagered $20,583,143 on the 12-race program, which eclipsed the previous on-track wagering record of $19,400,818, which was also set on the 11-race program in 2002. The 2003 total reflected an increase of 6.1% over the previous standard. Included in the 2003 on-track betting total was a record $9,079,841 wagered Kentucky Derby race, which bettered by 5.2 percent the old record of $8,630,408 established last year.

The attendance figure for Kentucky Derby 129 reflected an increase of 2.4 percent from the previous year and marked the eighth consecutive year in which Derby Day attendance had topped 140,000.