Kentucky Derby: How to watch, the favorites and what to expect in the 150th running of the race

The Kentucky Derby turns 150 years old this year, extending its run as America's longest continuously held sporting event.

Twenty horses stampeding 1 1/4 miles around Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May is considered 2 of the most exciting minutes in sports. There will be some 150,000 fans on hand, many of them in resplendent attire — the hats! — and others sipping on mint juleps and other drinks during the all-day party. It's almost time for “Riders up!”

When is the Derby post time?

6:57 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

What’s the forecast?

Saturday’s forecast is for a high around 79 degrees (26 Celsius) with a 40% chance of rain. The last sloppy track for the Derby was in 2019, when Country House was declared the winner after a 22-minute review by the stewards. Maximum Security crossed the line first, but was disqualified for interference. The Churchill dirt strip has been listed as fast the last four derbies.

How to watch

Coverage begins Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern with five hours of racing from Churchill Downs, capped by the Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies (USA Network, streaming on Peacock).

Derby Day coverage on Saturday begins at noon with the undercard races on USA Network and Peacock. At 2:30 p.m., network coverage shifts to NBC. and the NBC Sports app will stream live coverage to subscribers. NBC Sports Audio (channel 85 on SiriusXM radio and the SiriusXM app) will begin coverage at 10 a.m. Telemundo Deportes will have Derby coverage Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m. on Universo, and streaming on and the Telemundo app.

What to watch

A pre-race tradition is the walkover, when the horses are led from the stables to the paddock where they are saddled for the race. Some are cool and calm, others get fractious and sweaty. Accompanying them are usually the grooms, trainers and owners. The riders emerge from the jockeys' room and walk to the paddock to meet their mounts.

Besides the horses, check out the crowd decked out in huge hats and fascinators, floral-print dresses and seersucker suits that make the Derby the world's most fashionable sporting event. Retired NFL quarterback Tom Brady is expected to be among the celebrities in attendance. He is friends with Mike Repole, who owns Fierceness. Retired outfielder Jayson Werth co-owns Dornach, a long shot named for a golf club in Scotland.

Who are the favorites?

Fierceness was the 5-2 morning-line favorite (9-5 Thursday). Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, the bay colt will break from the No. 17 post, which has never produced a Derby winner. Fierceness won the Florida Derby by 13 1/2 lengths in his last race.

Sierra Leone was the early second choice at 3-1 (6-1 Thursday). The dark bay/brown colt cost $2.3 million, making him the highest-priced runner in the full field of 20. He is trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, who are a combined 0 for 13 in the Derby.

Catching Freedom was the early third choice at 8-1 (9-1 Thursday). The bay colt is trained by Louisville native Brad Cox and ridden by Flavien Prat.

Other choices included Just a Touch (17-1 Thursday) and Forever Young (8-1). Cox also trains Just a Touch, who is co-owned by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani of Qatar. The bay colt did not race at age 2, and neither did his sire Justify, who won the Triple Crown in 2018.

Forever Young is one of two Japanese horses in the field. The bay colt is undefeated in five career starts, including the UAE Derby, though winners of that race are 0 for 19 in the Derby.

What does the winner get?

Churchill Downs increased the total purse for the 150th Derby to $5 million, with the winning owner earning $1.3 million and a gold trophy. Second place is worth $1 million, with payouts down to fifth place. The winning horse is draped in a hand-sewn blanket of red roses. The winning jockey typically earns 10% of the purse and a smaller trophy.

Go deeper

Horse racing has spent months trying to figure out solutions to a spate of deaths that stunned the sport a year ago. Changes were made at tracks, including Churchill Downs, in hopes of protecting the animals. Saffie Joseph Jr. is back with long shot Catalytic a year after tragedy and banishment.

The 150th anniversary brought back memories of unforgettable races, and a chance for everyone to see how much they know about the Derby (including this quiz! )

Seventy miles east of Churchill Downs is a favorite stop: Old Friends Farm, home to about 250 retired racehorses, including Silver Charm — the oldest Derby winner still alive.


AP horse racing: