The fees to own and race a horse in the Kentucky Derby go beyond buying a horse or breeding a horse capable of qualifying for the Kentucky Derby. Owners are faced with decisions as they navigate an interesting fee system for the Triple Crown races. (This same system is used for the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes)
Many owners pay a relatively small fee early on, if they feel their horse has a chance at qualifying for the Kentucky Derby. The fee goes up geometrically as the date of the race approaches.
- The nomination fee an owner pays to make a horse eligible for the Kentucky Derby is $600 per horse — if you register during the “early period,” which runs through late January. After that, the fee goes up to $6,000 through late March. Last-minute entries will pay a supplemental fee of $200,000.
- The entry fee for the Kentucky Derby is another $25,000. Another $25,000 is paid if the horse enters the starting gate. By now, the owner has also paid entry fees at a number of other races through the winter and spring as the trainers prepare the horses in “prep” races.