The most exciting two minutes in sports is looking more pricey this year—in fact, there's only one major U.S. sporting event whose most expensive tickets run more than the swankiest seats at Churchill Downs.
The highest-priced ticket for Saturday's Kentucky Derby—the first horse race of the Triple Crown—is currently listed at $9,300, according to TiqIQ, a site that tracks ticket prices on the secondary market. That's more than 30 percent higher than last year's most expensive ticket, which was listed at $6,300.
But prices could move lower by post time in Louisville, Ky., said Chris Matcovich, vice president of data and communications for TiqIQ.
"A lot of it has to do with the weather," Matcovich said. "It really depends on how nice a day it is since it's an outdoor event where there isn't always a cover."
Prices may have enjoyed a boost this year from the hype surrounding high-profile horses like California Chrome competing in the race. But the most expensive Derby tickets tend to be under cover, and those seats typically don't see huge price swings. The seat for the $9,300 ticket is also under cover, located in the Turf Terrace.
Despite potential fluctuations, this year's most expensive listed ticket price will be higher than last year's, Matcovich said. He expects it to be in line with those from Stanley Cup finals, NBA finals and tennis' U.S. Open.
No match for NFL's big-ticket item
The asking price of prime seating at the Derby runs more than those of the best seats at almost any other marquee U.S. sporting event. In fact, the Super Bowl is the only game that had a more expensive ticket price listing—reaching $14,300 for February's game. Because TiqIQ only lists the prices, it can't be determined whether that listing actually found a buyer.
"With Kentucky Derby, you could be a very big horse-racing fan, but not necessarily a big fan of a certain horse race because [horses] are only 3 years old," Matcovich said, noting that Super Bowl's ticket prices may be high because a lot more people are interested in football.
But for some, attending the Derby may be more about its prestige, said Barry Kahn, CEO of ticket pricing software company Qcue.
"It's less about the horses," Kahn said. "I can guarantee you that a lot of people, at least a week before the game, couldn't name the horses."
The average listed ticket prices are down to $590 from $763 last year. This may be partly because of a higher distribution of general admission tickets, which inched up from 15 percent to 18 percent of the entire ticket pool, according to Matcovich.
From a ticket pricing standpoint, though, the Belmont tends to be the wild card, as horses with wins from the Derby and Preakness compete in the race to seize the Triple Crown: "From a day after Preakness win leading up to the race, you'll see really big fluctuations," Matcovich said.