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The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby is happening this Saturday at Churchill Downs.  The Derby bills itself as “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.”

Here are some things to know about this year’s race . . .

1.  Winnings:  The purse for the Derby was just raised to $3 million this year.  That’s up from $2 million, which had been the overall prize since 2005.  From 1996 and 2004, it was $1 million.

The winner receives $1.86 million.  The runner-up will earn $600,000, with third place worth $300,000, fourth place $150,000, and fifth place $90,000.  The winning jockey usually gets 10%, but the runners-up only get 5%.

The losing jockeys get PEANUTS . . . the ones that finish outside of the Top Five receive just “a couple hundred dollars apiece.”

The second and third legs of the Triple Crown . . . the Preakness and Belmont stakes . . . both offer total purses of $1.5 million.  The Preakness is happening on Saturday, May 19th, followed by the Belmont Stakes on June 8th.

2.  Favorites:  The Kentucky Derby post positions –  Omaha Beach had been the favorite but was scratched due to breaking problems.  Game Winner is  now the favorite.

3.  Atmosphere:  The Derby attracts up to 160,000 fans to Churchill Downs . . . which is a far cry from the 10,000 spectators in attendance at the first race in 1875 when Aristides won.  This year’s race will air on NBC at 6:50 P.M. Eastern.

The Kentucky Derby has been held at the SAME venue since that year, making it the nation’s longest continuously held sports event.  It also draws around 19 million television viewers.

This year, there’s rain in the forecast, so it’ll probably be a sloppy track.

4.  Betting:  Last year, $225.7 million was wagered on the horses around the country, which was up about 8% from the year before.  (For more on each horse, you can find a study guide at KentuckyDerby.com.)


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