2024 Kentucky Derby Purse: How much prize money will the winning owner and trainer earn

April 26th, 2024

The glory that comes with winning the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs is reason enough for many owners and trainers to target the historic race with their best horses. Winning the Kentucky Derby can be a career-defining achievement that earns you a place in the history books.

But of course, no great horse race is complete without a great purse to be won, and the Kentucky Derby boasts one of the richest purses in North America. To celebrate the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby, the purse money for 2024 has been raised to a record $5 million.

How the Kentucky Derby purse is paid out

In most horse races at Churchill Downs, every starter receives at least a small portion of the purse. That’s not the case in the Kentucky Derby, making entry something of a monetary gamble.

It costs $25,000 to enter the Kentucky Derby and $25,000 to start, on top of a nomination fee that costs $600 at the earliest deadline. But even though up to 20 horses are allowed to start, only the top five earn a piece of the purse, with the distribution as follows:

1st: $3.1 million
2nd: $1 million
3rd: $500,000
4th: $250,000
5th: $150,000

The Kentucky Derby is currently tied as the second-richest race in North America behind the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

How much do the winning owner and trainer earn?

While exact splits might vary, typically the owner of a Kentucky Derby winner receives 80% of the purse, leaving 10% apiece for the winning jockey and trainer. Under this arrangement, in 2024 the winning owner will receive $2.48 million before taxes and the winning trainer $310,000 before taxes.

However, it’s common for horses to be owned by partnerships involving two or more people, stables, and groups. When Authentic won the 2020 Kentucky Derby, the winning purse had to be shared among owners Spendthrift Farm, MyRacehorse Stable, Madaket Stables, and Starlight Racing.

The purse money isn’t the only prize awarded to Kentucky Derby winners. The winning owner receives a gold trophy, while the trainer, jockey, and breeder receive silver trophies.

Prior to 2024, the highest Kentucky Derby purse was $3 million, awarded every year from 2019 through 2023. The inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875 featured a purse of only $3,050—$2,850 to the winner and $200 to the runner-up.