How Much Money Do Horse Racers Make?

Have you ever wanted to know how much money horse racers make? By horse racers we mean the owners, horse trainers, and jockeys who make the sport what it is. You might be surprised to find out the earnings for the various professionals that are involved with thoroughbred horse racing can be low. Horse racing is a brutal sport that rewards only the best while those who do not succeed fight for the crumbs from the Sport of Kings’ table.


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How Much Do Race Horse Owners Make?

Let’s start at the top when looking at how much the people in the sport make. At the top of the food chain are those who actually own the race horses. Some of these owners can have large stables with 30, 40, or even more horses. Other owners have only one horse. All of these horse racers must compete for the same money that is offered by race tracks as purses for the winners in a race.

According to Money the average yearly income for a race horse owner is about $75,000. This may or may not include income from other sources. Some owners are fortunate enough to also earn money from stud fees if a horse they own is exceptionally talented. As for the earnings from races, an owner makes 60% of the purse when their horse wins. So, if the purse was $100,000 the winning owner would receive $60,000 minus deductions for the winning jockey.

Obviously there are some horse owners that make far more than $75,000 per year. There are also those who make much less. Some of them depend upon the horses that they own to pay the bills for their operations.

How Much Do Race Horse Trainers Make?

The next category of horse racer is the trainer that is responsible for preparing the horses for racing. Trainers make the majority of their money from what is called a day rate. This is an amount of money that the owner of the horse pays per day to keep their horse in training. The lowest trainers in the business command the lowest day rates. The best are able to charge the highest.

A trainer that has a very low win percentage will only earn about $75 or less per day for horse training. Those who win more often can command over $100. Bob Baffert likely commands even more than this considering that he has trained the last two Triple Crown winners. How much a trainer makes each year is dependent upon how many horse they have in their stable.

Trainers can also make money when the horse they train win a race. The owner of the winning horse may give the trainer a bonus for winning. It can range from $100 to much more depending on the purse value of the race.

How Much Do Race Horse Jockeys Make?

When most people ask how much money do horse racers make they are usually referring to the jockeys that ride the horses. The jocks are among the lowest paid workers in horse racing and they have the most dangerous job! A jockey can be paid as little as $50 for a race when they do not win. This is known as a jock mount.

Jockeys make more money when they win a race. The winning jockey will be given 10% of the winning owner’s share. So, if an owner makes $60,000 from a race the jockey will receive $6,000. Out of this money they are required to pay their valet and jockey agent. The best jockeys in horse racing can take home over $100,000 each year. The great majority of jockeys take home much less.

Can You Make a Living as a Horse Racer?

As our examples show it can be difficult to make a living in horse racing. If a person is willing to put in the time and work to learn the business and has the talent to do well, it is possible to earn a full-time living as a horse racer. But for every one that makes it there are stories of those who tried and failed.

Some people do not easily give up their horse racing dream. They continue to train race horse while working at another job. This usually doesn’t work out very well because the time demands of training race horses are great. There are a few select owners who make money with only a few horses, but these owners usually train their own horses rather than paying someone else to do it.

The claiming horse trainer is often able to make a living buying horses from claiming races and then selling the horses in another claiming event for a higher price. This is very rare. For horses to be claimed again they must show potential. Many of them have already landed at the bottom of the claiming ranks and are therefore hard to get rid of.

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