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Published: May 04, 2019 6 min read
The 144th Kentucky Derby
Horses racing during the first turn of the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in 2018.
Rob Carr—Getty Images

Derby Day 2019 is here! The Kentucky Derby, which is the premier horse race of the year and the first leg of the Triple Crown, always takes place on the first Saturday of May. This year the Kentucky Derby will be run on May 4 — that's today — rain or shine.

As usual, the Kentucky Derby takes place at the historic Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. Whether you're attending in person or watching the 2019 Kentucky Derby with friends at a party, it's tradition to get dressed up, with elaborate wide-brimmed hats for women and blazers and bowties for men.

The group of Kentucky Derby contenders in 2019 doesn't have any overwhelming favorites like recent Triple Crown winners Justify and American Pharoah. Instead, the Kentucky Derby betting odds this year indicate that it's a fairly open race. Omaha Beach was the overall favorite to win the 2019 Kentucky Derby, but dropped out of the race earlier this week. Game Winner is now the horse with the best chance to win, but Roadster and Improbable have good odds as well.

Here's everything you need to know to watch the 2019 Kentucky Derby — online or on TV, for free.

When Is the Kentucky Derby 2019 Start Time?

The Kentucky Derby schedule follows the same pattern every year. The gates at Churchill Downs open at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, and the entire day is full of pageantry, socializing, and the consumption of many Mint Juleps.

After the preliminary events are over, the singing of the national anthem takes place at roughly 5:08 p.m. ET, and the main Kentucky Derby race starts around 6:50 p.m. ET.

How Long Is the Kentucky Derby Race?

The track at Churchill Downs is 2 kilometers — 1.25 miles — and the race itself lasts about two minutes.

What Channel Is the Kentucky Derby On?

The TV broadcast of the 2019 Kentucky Derby is being handled by NBC, and coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on local NBC channels around the country. To watch the Kentucky Derby for free on TV, simply find your local NBC station and tune in.

If you have cable or another pay TV package, it probably includes major broadcast networks like NBC among the bundle of channels. But you don't need cable to watch the Kentucky Derby. In most of the country, you can watch the Kentucky Derby for free with a digital antenna connected to your TV.

A decent HDTV digital antenna costs around $25, and tunes in local affiliates of free, over-the-air broadcast networks, including NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and PBS. The exact list of channels you can watch for free with an antenna varies based on where you live, the strength of the antenna, and where the antenna is positioned in your home.

But in most of the country, viewers can watch all the major networks by hooking up a digital antenna to a TV — so it's pretty easy to watch the 2019 Kentucky Derby for free.

How to Live Stream the Kentucky Derby for Free

If you're hoping to stream the 2019 Kentucky Derby online rather than watch it on TV, there are Kentucky Derby live streaming options available — and yes, it's possible to watch online for free.

To start, there are NBC live streams. If you have a log-in and password for a participating pay TV account, you can watch the Kentucky Derby online today with the NBC Sports app or at

If you don't subscribe to cable or another qualifying pay TV account, you can still live stream the Kentucky Derby for free today by signing up for a free trial of a streaming TV service that includes NBC in its bundle of channels.

Among the live-streaming TV services that include broadcast network TV channels in some (but not all) parts of the country are Fubo TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu Live, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, and YouTube TV. NBC and other broadcast networks are not necessarily included in all locations with these services, so check in advance before registering. Sling TV spells out specifically which parts of the country have packages available with local Fox and NBC stations, but not every service makes these details readily apparent to new subscribers.

All of these services have free trials for new subscribers lasting five to seven days. After that, you'll be charged for the first month — at prices from $25 to $50 — if you do not cancel before the free-trial period ends. If you are interested in testing out one of the services, you could give it a try now and live-stream the Kentucky Derby for free, before deciding if you want to become a paying subscriber.

Finally, don't forget to enjoy the race!