Kentucky Derby 2022 Purse: How much prize money the winning jockey will earn

Profile Picture: Ashley Anderson

May 5th, 2022

Far more than a gold trophy and an elaborate garland of roses is on the line during the running of the 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1). The winner of the 1 1/4-mile race will also earn a whopping $1.86 million of the Kentucky Derby’s $3 million purse. Yet, just a portion of that will go to the winning jockey, the individual responsible for guiding a three-year-old Thoroughbred from the starting gate to the finish line.

Payout to the winning Kentucky Derby jockey

The jockey that successfully crosses the finish line first in the Run for the Roses will obtain 10% of the winner’s purse. Thus, a $1.86 million payout to the winning horse equates to a $186,000 share for the rider.

Not all of that $186,000 will stay in the jockey’s pocket, though. The first-place horseman will traditionally pay a 25% fee to his or her agent and tip 5% to the valet who helped the jockey prepare his or her gear for the race.

Taxes must be paid on the winnings, too, so that $186,000 cut can quickly dwindle down to $50,000 in take-home pay.

The second- and third-place jockeys each get a 5% cut of $600,000 and $300,000, respectively, and will distribute the same percentage as the winner to their agent and valet. The fourth- and fifth-place horses receive $100,000 and $60,000, respectively, leaving their jockeys with around, $7,000 and $4,000, before taxes.

History of the Kentucky Derby purse

In 2019, Churchill Downs announced the purse for the Kentucky Derby would be raised from $2 million to $3 million for "the fastest two minutes in sports."

The $1 million increase is a result of returns from historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming, Churchill Downs Incorporated’s gaming facility that opened in September 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875 offered a purse starting at $1,000. By 1996, the prize pool increased to $1 million, and from 2005 to 2018, it reached $2 million, with the winner receiving around $1.24 million.

The 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (G1), annually held the day before Derby, is the country’s most lucrative race for three-year-old fillies, with a purse of $1.25 million.