Kentucky Derby 143 at Churchill Downs

Kentucky Derby 143 at Churchill Downs

Rick Schmitt

Kentucky Derby and Derby Day Handle Hit Record Highs

Wagering from all sources on the Derby race was $139.2 million.

With wagering above $200 million for the first time and a top-10 crowd on Kentucky Derby Day, Louisville-based Churchill Downs Inc. expects to add between $4 million and $6 million in increased profitability, the company announced May 6.

The company released the financial results for Derby Day and Derby Week after the 143rd Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (G1) May 6. Records were set for all-sources handle for Derby Day card, the Derby itself, and Derby Week.

Wagering from all sources on the 14-race Derby Day card reached $209.2 million, a 9% jump over last year's $192.6 million and 8% higher than the previous record of $194.3 million in 2015.

Wagering from all sources on the Derby race increased 12% to $139.2 million from 2016's $124.7 million and up 1% from the previous record of $137.9 million in 2015.

All-sources handle for Derby Week also set a record of $284.1 million, an increase of 7% from the previous record last year.

Churchill's news release did not break out on-track handle results.

Despite rain much of the day May 6, the crowd at Churchill Downs of 158,070 was the seventh largest in the history of the race.

"We were excited to introduce our latest round of renovations," said track president Kevin Flanery, "and our investments in the facility continue to pay off, as we strive to improve the guest experience every year."

Since 2005, about $125 million has been spent or is being spent on renovations.

Attendance for the week of 349,455 was down 7% from a record in 2016—brought down by a 15.6% smaller crowd for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) card May 5, which was run in the coldest weather since 1940 and with near-constant rain.

Over recent years, Churchill has improved the Derby financial juggernaut. Announced increases in profitability—measured in pre-tax statistics called EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA—collectively have totaled at least $45 million over the past eight years.

Churchill typically releases a final account of Derby Week's impact on its bottom line in the summer, when it reports financials for the quarter that will end June 30.