2022 Kentucky Derby Facts
The Run for the Roses, the first leg of the Triple Crown, the “most exciting two minutes in sports” grows near. This year marks the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby, held at Louisville’s Churchill Downs Racetrack. Last year’s event had limited capacity due to COVID-19, but this year the crowds should be much bigger now that the pandemic is nearing its tail end. So far, we’ve covered the “Long Shots” for this year’s Derby, and the Top 5 contenders. Today we are going to look at some history and facts of the Kentucky Derby to help you understand more about the event and get you more comfortable so you can bet confidently.
What is the Kentucky Derby? The Kentucky Derby is an annual race normally held on the first Saturday of May. It is the first race of the Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The competition is for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses, racing a distance of one and a quarter miles at Churchill Downs Race Track in Kentucky.
How Many Horses Run in the Kentucky Derby? The Kentucky Derby is capped at 20 horses, who have all earned the right to be running in the race based on points. However, it is possible to see the entire 20 horse field go down a few spots before the race even leaves the gate. There are usually scratches before the race gets going, or late scratches as the horses take their warm-up. If a horse is scratched before race day, an “also eligible” horse may have the opportunity to take his place in the starting gate.
How Does a Horse Qualify for the Derby? The Road to the Kentucky Derby series features designated stakes races (September to April) that offer points to the top four finishers in each race. As The Road progresses closer to the Kentucky Derby, the point values offered for each race increase. Seven states across the United States (Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, and Oklahoma) host a total of 35 races occurring at 13 different racetrack venues.
Starting in September (the previous year) before the Kentucky Derby, the top two-year-olds get the opportunity to begin earning points. For the first five months leading up to the Kentucky Derby, the point values are maintained at a 10-4-2-1 scale:
-10 points go to the winner
-4 points to the runner up
-2 points to the third-place finisher
-1 point to the fourth-place finisher
How Many People Will Attend the Race? 150,000 attendees are expected for the 2022 Kentucky Derby (15 times more than the first race in 1875). The COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the ability for people to enjoy this event for the past two years, but you will find this year to be just as it was pre-covid. It is an exciting event for horse racing fans and bettors to have the chance to win big earnings. People are eager to come out and go back to normal life. There will be no mask requirements or crowd limits, so make sure to get those tickets ahead of time.
Total Amount Wagered? In 2021, $233 million was wagered on the Derby (85 % more than 2020). This total comes from all bets that were taken at the North American racebooks on the day of the Kentucky Derby for all Churchill Downs races. Even though the race was held with attendance limits and restrictions last year, many bettors participated online. It is expected that the total this year will exceed 2019’s total of $250.9 million. The Derby is one of the biggest races every year and total amount wagered is likely to increase year after year.
Basic Waging Options? There are many ways to bet on the race, but the most basic ones are the win-place-show bets. A win bet is straightforward, you win if your horse wins the race. A place bet allows you to win the wager if your horse comes in first or second place. If you want a safer bet, the easiest way to go is the show bet that allows you to win if your horse finishes either first, second, or third place. A show bet has smaller payoffs than a win or place bet, but it secures you more chances of winning.
What to wear to the race? Although the attention is on the horses, many people show out to impress in their best hats at the Kentucky Derby. This famous race is also famous for extravagant hats and elegant fashion. Don’t be surprised if you see a flamingo, a block of cheese, or horses on someone’s head. You’ll be walking around a lot from the concession stands to wagering and refills, so make sure you pack some comfortable shoes!
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