NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider NBC Sports

The 2024 Kentucky Derby: What to Know About the 150th Run For the Roses

Break out the mint juleps and the funny hats, because it’s almost Derby time! 

By Adam Pockross

Break out the mint juleps and the stylish hats, because it’s Derby time! 

If you can’t get to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky for the Kentucky Derby, aka the biggest horse race of the year, don’t worry, because NBC will be the next best place to be on May 4. Honestly, if you’ve got the right fascinator, enough mint juleps, and you belt out “My Old Kentucky Home” on repeat, you might not even notice you’re not at the horse track itself. 

RELATED: 2024 Kentucky Derby: Traditions, food, drinks and other iconic customs for Derby Day

Either way, expect good times, incredible people watching, and great racing for the 150th running of the roses. Here’s everything you need to know about the Kentucky Derby!

Fans cheer during the running of the 148th Kentucky Derby

Why Is the Kentucky Derby So Important?

They don’t call it the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” for nothing, folks, and it’s been that way for 150 years now. The annual “Run for the Roses,” which takes place every first Saturday in May, brings together the most impressive 3-year-old thoroughbreds, all striving to be the quickest horse around the 1+1⁄4 mile (10 furlongs) track, and drape that iconic garland of roses around its neck. 

The first leg of the venerable Triple Crown (along with the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes), the Kentucky Derby is the most watched and attended race around, and has come to symbolize the very highest echelon of horse racing (and partying). Along with its sibling race, the Kentucky Oaks (streaming May 3 from 1-6 p.m. ET on USA Network and Peacock), they are the oldest continuously held major sporting events in America.

Last year, Mage, ridden by jockey Javier Castellano, won the Derby with a time of 2:01.57.

How Much Money Does the Winner of the 2024 Kentucky Derby Earn?

In January, Churchill Downs, the racetrack that has housed the Kentucky Derby since the beginning, announced a $2 million increase in the purse money from 2023, making this year's $5 million purse the highest ever. The winner will receive the lion’s share of that (horse’s share?) with $3.1 million, while the runner-up wins $1 million, third place earns $500,000, fourth gets $250,000, and fifth trots home with $150,000.

“These record purse increases are a symbol of the health of horse racing in Kentucky,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc. at the time the purse was announced (via NBC Sports).

Who’s Racing in the 2024 Kentucky Derby? 

Medina Spirit and John Velazquez cross the finish line to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby

Of course, gambling on the ponies is all part of the fun during the Kentucky Derby, so who’s the odds-on favorite to win all that sweet purse money? 

While we won’t know who’s actually favored until the post draw a week before the race (which is earlier than previous post draws), if you’ve been paying attention to horse racing lately, you can make some assumptions based on which horses have earned points in the Road to the Derby races.

And if you haven’t been paying attention, worry not, NBC Sports’ Ahmed Fareed and Randy Moss can catch you right up! In the video here, they discuss the 2024 Derby’s "Elite 8": Fierceness, Sierra Leone, Forever Young, Catching Freedom, Just Steel, Honor Marie, Just A Touch, and Endlessly. 

RELATED: Kentucky Derby drinks - How to make a mint julep

We’ll know plenty more when the official post draw drops, along with the opening odds, so stay tuned to NBC Sports for all the latest.

When Is the Kentucky Derby and Where Can You Watch It? 

The race itself is at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC! You can also stream the Kentucky Derby live on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, and Peacock.

NBC Sports is the exclusive home to the biggest events in horse racing, including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. 

Read more about: