Horse racing fans across the world filled Churchill Downs’ coffers on opening weekend. Even though races were held without fans for the first time in the track’s history, plenty of money was bet on the ponies.
As many expected, opening day drew in a ton of action. Churchill reported more than $14.278 million in wagers made on Saturday. The cascade did not slow down on Sunday as the track revealed a $12.326 million handle.
Fans wagered a grand total of $26.6 million on opening weekend, almost three times more than in 2019. The featured Saturday night in April a week before last year’s Kentucky Derby drew in $9.328 million in wagers, according to WDRB’s Eric Crawford.
What makes the opening weekend numbers even more impressive — the races weren’t the best Churchill Downs has to offer. The Matt Winn Stakes this Saturday will feature three-year-olds jockeying for a spot in the gate at this fall’s Kentucky Derby. You’ll also see some of the best four-year-olds in the game on Saturday, like Mr. Money and Long Range Toddy.
One can point to obvious reasons in the dramatic rise, aside from the coronavirus. Many folks probably wagered conservatively in 2019, saving room in their budget to bet big Derby weekend. There were also significantly more betting opportunities a year ago. Eight tracks raced across the country this Saturday. On the same Saturday in 2019 there were 42 tracks open for business.
Maybe there is an appetite for gambling in Kentucky?