2024 Kentucky Derby purse: How much prize money will the winning jockey earn

April 26th, 2024

The 150th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs is taking place on May 4, 2024. To celebrate the sesquicentennial edition of the historic race, the purse has been raised to a record $5 million.

The purse is split among the winning owner, trainer, and jockey. The running of the race takes only two minutes, but great skill is required for the winning jockey to strategically navigate the pace and traffic of a 20-horse field and reach the finish line in first place.

Have you ever wondered what share of the Kentucky Derby purse the winning jockey receives? Suffice to say, it’s a lucrative payday.

How the Kentucky Derby purse is broken down

The top five finishers in the Kentucky Derby each receive a portion of the purse, broken down as follows:

1st: $3.1 million
2nd: $1 million
3rd: $500,000
4th: $250,000
5th: $150,000

Typically, 80% of the winning purse is awarded to the owner(s) of the Kentucky Derby winner, while the winning trainer receives 10%. This leaves 10% for the winning jockey, which in 2024 amounts to $310,000 before taxes.

The $310,000 gets shared among a couple of behind-the-scenes racing participants. In a typical arrangement, 25% (in 2024, $77,500) goes to the winning jockey’s agent and another 5% ($15,500) to the valet who helped the jockey prepare his or her riding gear, leaving the jockey with 70% ($217,000 before taxes).

The jockeys who guide the Kentucky Derby runner-up and third-place finisher receive 5% of the $1 million and $500,000 payouts, which works out to $50,000 and $25,000. Again, agents receive 25% and valets 5%, leaving the jockeys with $35,000 and $17,500 before taxes respectively.

In addition, the conditions of the 2024 Kentucky Derby stipulate that the jockeys of all horses who finish beyond third place will receive a minimum $500 riding fee.

The history of the Kentucky Derby purse

The purse of the Kentucky Derby has come a long way through the years. The inaugural edition in 1875 paid a total of $2,850 to the winner and $200 to the runner-up, for a total purse of $3,050. By 2019, the purse was nearly 1,000 times higher: $3 million, including $1.86 million to the winning connections.

The 2024 Kentucky Derby is the first to offer a purse of $5 million, tying the Derby for the second-richest race in North America behind the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).