Kentucky Derby 2023 Purse: How much prize money the winning jockey will earn
In 2022, the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) produced a shocking result. Jockey Sonny Leon guided 80-1 longshot Rich Strike to victory in the 1 1/4-mile race held annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.
In addition to the worldwide attention and acclaim Leon received for his spectacular ride aboard Rich Strike, Leon—a first-time Derby participant in 2022—also collected a portion of the $3 million purse.
Kentucky Derby payout to the winning jockey
However, Leon's take-home pay was just a fraction of the $3 million on the line in the Run for the Roses. While a total of $1.86 million is awarded to the connections of the winning Kentucky Derby horse, the jockey aboard the champion Thoroughbred takes a 10% cut of the payout, or $186,000.
Yet, not all of that money remained in Leon's pocket once he etched his name into Derby history. Normally, the winning jockey of the Kentucky Derby will dish out a 25% fee to their agent and tip 5% to the valet who helped them prep their gear for the race, leaving the jockey with $130,200. On top of that, taxes must be paid on the jockey's winnings, which reduces the rider's take-home pay even further.
Kentucky Derby winning jockey, Sonny Leon, sits atop Kentucky Cool in the post parade for a $5,000 claiming race at Belterra Park for a $9,500 purse.— Darin Zoccali (@atTheTrack7) May 13, 2022
Should he win, he would earn $570.
He made $180,000 for winning the Derby.
The second- and third-place jockeys each get a 5% cut of $600,000 and $300,000, respectively, and will dole out the same percentage as the winner to their agent and valet. The fourth- and fifth-place horses collect $100,000 and $60,000, respectively, which leaves the jockeys of those runners with around, $7,000 and $4,000 in earnings, before taxes.
The trainer of the winning Derby horse receives a 10% cut of the $1.86 million winnings, just as the jockey does.
By contrast, the owner of the winning horse receives 80% of the purse, or about $1.488 million before taxes. But in today's era of horse racing, it's not unusual for racehorses to have multiple owners.
For example, 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify was owned by a partnership formed by WinStar Farm (majority owner) along with China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and Carcone Racing Stable. Thus, the $1.86 million won by Justify had to be split among multiple owners.
The winning owner(s) is also given a gold trophy, while the trainer, jockey, and breeder of the top horse get smaller silver trophies.
The evolving history of the Kentucky Derby purse
The Kentucky Derby purse has a long and storied history, as the prize money at stake in the Run for the Roses has increased significantly over time, reflecting the race's ever-growing popularity and prestige.
The inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875 awarded $2,850 to the winner and $200 to the runner-up for a total purse of $3,050, but by 1996, the prize pool had surpassed $1 million. From 2005 to 2018, the purse expanded to more than $2 million and the winner obtained a cut of around $1.24 million.
In 2019, the purse was raised to $3 million, with the increase attributed to returns from historical racing machines at Churchill Downs Inc.'s gaming facility, Derby City Gaming, in Louisville, Kentucky. This boost in prize money has helped make the Kentucky Derby one of the richest horse races in North America.
The 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks, held each year the day before the Derby, is the country's most lucrative race for three-year-old fillies, with a purse of $1.25 million.
Overall, the Kentucky Derby and Oaks are two of the most prestigious races in horse racing, which is why they both continue to attract top jockeys, trainers, and horses from around the globe.
Learn more about each of the Kentucky Derby jockeys
Official Kentucky Derby 149 Jockeys
Brian Hernandez Jr.
Angel of Empire
Irad Ortiz Jr.
Derma Sotogake (JPN)
Joel Rosario (2)
Mandarin Hero (JPN)
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