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How much are Kentucky Derby jockeys paid? Purse percentage for riders of winning horse, runners-up

If horses could talk then we’d probably never hear from the jockeys. Instead, the jockey serves as the spokesperson for the horse, almost as if they were a celebrity that didn’t want to deal with the paparazzi. 

We see those riders atop the horses constantly throughout the day. After all, how else would they fill time in a five-hour pre-race show? 

With huge crowds of people and plenty of bets being placed, there is tons of money being exchanged at the Kentucky Derby. But once the race concludes –– about two minutes after it starts –– the attention is turned to the celebrating owner. We know how much money they make, but what about the jockey who guides the horse to victory? 

MORE: Horses, odds, expert picks & more for 2024 Kentucky Derby

The Sporting News takes a look at how much the jockeys get paid at the Kentucky Derby: 

How much are Kentucky Derby jockeys paid?

The Kentucky Derby total purse is worth $5 million and while the horse gets all the glory, the owners get the payday. 

Lost in the fold, though, is the jockey. The normally jubilant person atop that winning horse doesn’t make as much as you’d probably think.

According to TwinSpires, the jockey of the champion horse at the Kentucky Derby receives about 10 percent of the prize money. For 2024, that means the jockey will receive around $310,000. 

However, it doesn’t stop there. Of that $310,000 payout, the jockey then typically tips around 25 percent to their agent and 5 percent to the valet who helped prepared their gear. Of course, taxes are also taken out, leaving the jockey with a nice amount of money for two minutes of racing, but far less than we’ve come to expect in comparison to other sports.

Payouts for other jockeys are even less though, with second and third place receiving a 5 percent share of the winnings.

MORE: Post positions & odds for the 2024 Kentucky Derby

According to a CNBC article in 2010, most of the remaining jockeys might take home a few hundred dollars for their work on that Saturday afternoon in May.

Turns out, being a jockey doesn’t tend to inflate your bank account balance. Even if you win.

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