Yesterday’s Kentucky Derby may end up being the most memorable edition for some time thanks to the extended video review that ended up overturning the race result for the first time in Derby history.
The close race (and maybe some of that controversy) helped propel the 145th running of the race to record ratings: the highest overnights since 1990, according to an NBC release.
Country House’s victory in the “Run for the Roses” delivered a 10.9/25 overnight rating – matching 1992 as the best overnight for a Kentucky Derby since 1990. In addition, the 10.9/25 for the Kentucky Derby (6:30-7:30pm ET race portion) is up 20% from last year’s race (9.1/21) featuring eventual Triple Crown winner Justify, and marks television’s best Saturday overnight since the NFL Divisional Playoffs (Jan. 12, 2019).
The overnight rating peaked at an 11.9/27 from 6:45-7 p.m. ET, as Country House and Maximum Security crossed the finish line. Louisville, the home of the Kentucky Derby, topped the metered markets with a 39.5 rating/69 share (top 20 markets below).
The rating peaking during the race portion makes sense, although it means some people likely didn’t stick around to learn the horse they thought had won had not, in fact, won.
The big interest in the Derby might mean good things for the Preakness in a few weeks as well, especially if we got a rematch between Country House and Maximum Security. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely as of now. That makes sense; even Country House’s owners probably didn’t expect to have this decision to make as they went into the Derby at 65-1 odds, and Maximum Security doesn’t stand to gain much from a quick turnaround.
There’s still a chance both horses run in the Belmont Stakes, though, and if Country House is somehow vying for the Triple Crown in that scenario (which would be the third Triple Crown in the last five years) we might even get a real, national horse racing narrative. In 2019! The odds of that even being possible at this point seem much longer than those faced by Country House yesterday. Or, maybe it’ll go out the window as Country House loses the Preakness.
In any case, NBC somehow ended up the only clear winner of yesterday’s race.