Updated May 4, 2024 - Sports

Kentucky Derby: What to know and how to watch

Strong Quality #1, with Florent Geroux aboard, wins an undercard race at the Kentucky Derby

Strong Quality #1, with Florent Geroux aboard, wins an undercard race ahead of the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

At the 150th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, 20 horses will race past fancy hats and mint juleps for a chance to reach the Winner's Circle.

Why it matters: This year's Derby follows a controversial one.

  • Last year, five horses died at Churchill Downs, stirring concerns about animal welfare.
  • Churchill Downs has enhanced safety protocols, including the addition of StrideSAFE, a technology horses will wear to identify early warning signs of injury.
Kentucky Derby spectator with long beard
A spectator poses for a picture ahead of the Kentucky Derby May 4. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

State of play: 14 races will take place throughout the day. The first post time was 10:30am ET, and the main event is 6:57pm ET. View full schedule here.

  • Live coverage starts at 2:30pm on NBC, NBCsports.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.
  • USA Network and Peacock will have Kentucky Oaks coverage 1-6pm Friday.

The prize purse is a record $5 million. The winner takes home $3.1 million, with their jockey earning $310,000. The other four top finishers will also take home money.

Spectator in pink hat at Kentucky Derby
A spectator poses ahead of the Kentucky Derby on May 4. Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Catch up quick: For the last eight years, the Derby has used a tiered point system in select races across the world to determine who runs in the Kentucky Derby.

  • Races throughout derby prep season designate points to the top five finishers in each race. The 20 horses with the most points are invited to Kentucky.
  • Only thoroughbreds who are 3 years old can race.

Zoom out: The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes are the Triple Crown events.

Fun facts: This year's Derby features two Japan-born colts: T O Password and Forever Young.

  • Dornoch, the full brother of last year's winner, Mage, will start at post position one.
  • The Garland of Roses given to the Kentucky Derby champion at the Winner's Circle weighs 40 pounds and is made with over 400 Freedom roses.

Go deeper: Jayson Werth's racehorse is a Kentucky Derby darling

Go deeper