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2020 Kentucky Derby brings in $79.4m in wagers


A total of $79.4m was bet on the 2020 Kentucky Derby, down 52.0% from 2019’s record handle, according to Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI).

Bettors staked $126.0m on the program of racing on 5 September, down 49.8%, following the event being postponed from its traditional date in May and taking place without spectators becaus eof the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

CDI had initially planned to allow 23,000 fans to attend and a maximum of 40% occupancy of reserved seats in proposals unveiled earlier this month, before deciding in August to hold the event behind closed doors. Only essential personnel and participants were permitted to attend in person, following an increase in cases of Covid-19 in the Louisville area.

The event usually welcomes a crowd of around 150,000 and had never before been held without spectators, nor had it been held as late as September.

“Although it is difficult to compare the financial performance to prior years, we are pleased with the profitability of the spectator-less 2020 Derby Week,” CDI said.

Bill Carstanjen, chief executive of Churchill Downs Incorporated, said he looked forward to the 2021 event.

“We are grateful to our fans and our community for their support of the 146th Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby,” Carstanjen said. “We look forward to seeing our loyal fans at next year’s 147th Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby on the first weekend of May.”   

In July, CDI reported a year-on-year decline in revenue and a net loss for the first half of 2020, primarily due to the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, including the postponement of the Kentucky Derby and the closure of land-based casinos.

The operator made revenue of $438.0m, down 41.0% from 2019 and a comprehensive loss of $142.2m.