The competitive horse racing world would be impossible without jockeys, even though they were only in the limelight for a short time, when they won a Triple Crown race.
Most jockeys are not necessarily people with high incomes. These little athletes ride horses in the race, and while the most successful people earn a six-figure income, most generate relatively modest income. One of the biggest reasons is that the success of a rider determines most of his income – those who win big wallet races make significantly more money.
Jockeys often work as independent contractors and are hired by horse trainers. The amount of money a rider is paid to ride a horse is called a “mount fee”. This fee is not necessarily very high – in most cases, from $25 to $100. After that, the driver’s income is determined primarily by his level of success, turning this into a profession, with high stakes for all races.
The real income that competitive jockeys are wallets. The wallet is the prize money a horse earns in first, second or third place, and the driver is cut. The size of the wallet and the percentage earned from riders vary, but it is a relatively small cut. The first position can win about six percent of the wallet, for example, with the second position accounting for one percent and the third position accounting for half percent.
Most jockey earns $30,000 to $40,000 a year, but there are exceptions. For example, in 2004, the top 100 jockey earned an average of $5.7 million. However, with variations in prize income, these numbers are not always consistent.
Costs and requirements
Jockeys must provide their own equipment, such as saddles, helmets and boots, to be able to ride. Of their winnings, jockey pays about 30 per cent to their agents and waiters. They must also meet stringent weight requirements to remain qualified and competitive – most jockeys weigh from 108 to 118 lbs. That being the case, most jockeys are also relatively short, while there is no requirement for height, a short stature helps a racer make weight.