The 147th annual Kentucky Derby will be raced Saturday night at Churchill Downs. The 1¼-mile horserace, which bills itself as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” is set to start at 6:57 p.m. ET.
Twenty horses and their jockeys — including betting favorites Essential Quality, Known Agenda and Rock Your World — will be competing not only for glory, but also for a large cash prize.
The 2021 Kentucky Derby purse is worth $3 million, the same amount as last year’s, and will be split between the top five finishers. The first-place finisher will receive $1.86 million, more than 60% of the total.
The jockey who rides their horse to victory gets a 10% cut of the prize money. But they won’t take home the full $186,000 themselves. There’s a 25% fee to his agent, as well as a traditional 5% tip to the valet who helps him prepare all of his gear for the race.
Those costs shave the winning jocket’s payday down by $55,800 to $130,200. And then they need to pay taxes.
The second and third place jockeys each receive a 5% cut of their $600,000 and $300,000 prizes, respectively, and pay the same proportional agent and valet fees as the top finisher. That leaves them with pre-tax winnings of $21,000 and $10,500.
Fourth and fifth place horses earn $100,000 and $60,000 each, leaving their jockeys with pre-tax checks of $7,000 and $4,200 respectively.
The rest of the finishers leave with meager winnings. Their ride is only worth “a couple hundred dollars apiece,” jockey agent Ron Anderson told CNBC in 2010.