Kentucky Derby 2022: Attendance Numbers and Betting Handle at Churchill Downs

The Kentucky Derby attendance started to approach pre-pandemic levels in 2022. While less people attended the 2022 Kentucky Derby than initially expected, horse racing fans set an all-time record for betting handle, wagering a whopping $273.8 million on the Run for the Roses.

Kentucky Derby 2022 Attendance Details at Churchill Downs

There were 147,000 fans at the 2022 Kentucky Derby. That is actually 23,000 fewer fans than were initially projected.

One should not analyze the 2021 Kentucky Derby attendance figures too much because of the issues pertaining to coronavirus. There were just 51,838 spectators a year ago.

The highest attendance for a Kentucky Derby came in 2015, according to our research, when 170,513 fans attended the first race of horse racing’s triple crown. Over the next four years, attendance at Churchill Downs decreased annually, as only 150,729 people made it to the track for the Kentucky Derby in 2019.

Despite Kentucky Derby Attendance, Fans Set Record for Horse Racing Betting in 2022

Even though attendance has dropped, wagering has increased. Betting for the 2022 Kentucky Derby was at $273.8 million, a 9% increase from the 2019 record of $250.8 million.

So what can we say about these numbers?

Well for one, sports betting is more accessible now in America than ever before, so the rise in wagers is not much of a surprise. Nearly 30 states, including Washington D.C., have legal sports betting options but horse racing betting is still outlawed at some state-owned sportsbooks.

When it comes to the attendance, there shouldn’t be a concern that only 147,00 attended.

But the bottom line is we are still in a pandemic. COVID-19 is a serious global disease, one that is simply not over yet.

Kentucky Derby 2022 Winner Rich Strike Will Not Race at the Preakness Stakes

There was huge horse racing news on Thursday as it was announced that Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike would not be competing at the Preakness in 2022.

This means that there will not be a Triple Crown winner.

According to Kevin Dotson of CNN, Rich Strike’s owner Rich Dawson said in a statement that it was important that Rich Strike had “five or six weeks rest between races.”

Dawson knows what an honor it is to win the Triple Crown but the focus at this time is Rich Strike’s health.

Even though participation at the Preakness on May 21 at Pimlico in Baltimore was extremely tempting, the focus of Rich Strike’s team will now be to prepare the horse for the Belmont Stakes on June 11.


Related: 80-1 Long Shot Rich Strike Wins 2022 Kentucky Derby in Historical Upset


With No Chase for the Triple Crown, Expect Reduced Interest in Preakness and Belmont

Even though attendance at the Preakness and Belmont should still be OK with Rich Strike’s absence. However, with no chase for the Triple Crown in 2022, the worldwide focus of these two horse racing events is projected to take a major drop with the Kentucky Derby winner electing not to race.

In my lifetime, there have only been three Triple Crown winners–Affirmed (1978), American Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018).

According to MyBookie, Epicenter,  the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, is also the favorite to win the Preakness at +250.