1. Please describe how the jockeys are paid in your country. If appropriate, please provide the monetary amount for compensation or the percentage for riding fees, as well as the percentage of the purse distribution. Of these fees, please advise how much, if any, each rider contributes to benefits and/or the jockey association.

In the United States, jockeys receive 10% of winner’s share, 5% of second, 5% of third, and a losing fee on all others. Losing mounts vary in different jurisdictions (state to state), and range anywhere from $50 to approximately $110, with the exception of California, in which the losing mount fee where the minimum is approximately $112 and goes all the way up to approximately $202 in the races with purses over $100,000.With that being said, the average losing mount fee across the country, as of 2019, is approximately $75.The minimum losing mount fees are typically negotiated with the horseman’s organizations at the respective racetrack, and are either by agreement, or adopted by the Commission in the jurisdiction through legislation. Riding fees are collected by the racecourse and paid directly to the jockeys on a weekly basis through the horsemen’s bookkeeper. Purse distributions can vary as well, but, with the exception of a few states such as New York and Maryland, the normal purse distribution is 60%, 20%, 10%, 5%, 3%, 2%.Most all jockeys in the United States have agents which receive between 25%-30% of the jockeys’ fees. They also have valets that care for their equipment, most of which get paid 5%-10%. It is not mandatory to join Jockeys’ Guild, Inc., the association that represents the majority of jockeys in the US. Members of the organization pay $100 annual dues, along with a per mount fee in exchange for benefits such as life insurance, AD&D insurance, temporary disability benefits, and representation. The per mount contribution is capped at 1,000 mounts and has been $4 per mount since June 1, 2006.However, the per mount fee was increased to $5 per mount at certain racetracks where there has been an increase in losing mount fees, as well as other benefits, on June 1, 2019.The racetracks who have not received an increase in losing mount fees, while the other tracks will remain at $4.

2. Please advise if your country provides socialized medicine. If not, please describe the health care that is provided to riders and who contributes to the cost of such expense.

The United States does not have socialized medicine. Jockeys are responsible for providing their own health insurance. However, in order to assist the jockeys in obtaining health insurance, the Jockeys’ Guild, through agreements with contributing racing associations, has created a supplemental reimbursement program for qualifying jockeys. Additionally, certain states have adopted legislation to assist jockeys in paying for personal health insurance. Unfortunately, not all tracks contribute to the Jockeys’ Guild and only a limited number of states (California, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as Massachusetts, which provides $65,000 annually to be used for Health and Welfare) have legislation providing health insurance benefits for the jockeys.

3. Please advise if jockeys are covered under a workers’ compensation program or something similar in the event of an accident in your country. If not, who is responsible for the cost of care for the injured jockey?

In the United States, jockeys are covered under a workers’ compensation plan in only four (4) states, which are California, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. In the remaining jurisdictions, they are treated as independent contractors and are provided coverage by the race tracks under the “on-track” accident policies. The coverage under those policies is limited to accidents occurring during race time and training and does not offer the equivalent benefits to workers’ compensations. There is a substantial difference in the accident coverage for jockeys in the worker’ compensation and nonworkers’ compensation states.

The medical coverage appears similar in workers’ compensation and nonworkers’ compensation plans. However, benefits under workers’ compensation are not capped like they are under the on-track accident policies. Workers’ Compensation will provide full medical coverage, or in the alternative provide the jockey with a settlement, whereas the on-track accident policies provide coverage for 2 to 3 years depending on the policy.

In general, workers’ compensation benefits are more generous than the on-track accident policies. During the time of disability in a nonworkers’ compensation state, the rider will receive approximately $200 per week as income. This benefit is limited to 104 weeks, whereas a rider with permanent total injury in a workers’ compensation state would receive benefits for life, or in the alternative, may accept a lump sum settlement. In the workers’ compensation states all benefits would be tax free.

In addition to the benefits provided by either the workers’ compensation or the on-track accident policy, jockeys who are a member of the Guild, are entitled to receive up to $250 for the first eight (8) weeks they are unable to ride due to an on-track accident. For the remaining time that a member is receiving temporary disability, he/she is eligible to receive up to $200 per week, not to exceed 104 weeks total.

Aside from the medical coverage (typically is only up to $1 million and, as previously indicated, is limited to 2-3 years) under the on-track accident policies, the only way a rider can become whole in the absence of workers’ compensation, is to attempt to obtain full compensation for their losses under common law rules of negligence liability. However, for the injured worker to receive compensation under negligence liability rules, he or she must show that the employer was negligent (failed to exercise due care). Whereas a rider who has accepted coverage under workers’ compensation in the jurisdictions providing such, and has signed the waiver prior to any accidents, does not have the right to sue for a workplace accident under negligence liability unless they can show wilful intent to injure on the part of the employer.

In the workers’ compensation states of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and California, the tracks also purchase a catastrophic accident policy for death and permanent total disability. The payouts in the policy depend on whether the jockey signs a “waiver” to not sue under negligence liability. Without the signed waiver the maximum payout is $100,000. With the signed waiver, the maximum payout ranges from approximately $399,000 to $1.6 million, depending on the level of injury and the earnings in prior years. These payouts would be added to the mandatory benefits stipulated in workers’ compensation law in those states.

4. Please advise if foreign riders are covered if they are injured in your country. If so, who provides the insurance for foreign riders when they come to ride? How long is the coverage? Does it only cover medical care received in your country or does it also cover care once they have returned home?

Foreign riders are provided coverage and benefits under the same policies as local riders, whether it is workers’ compensation or the on-track accident policy, depending on the track where the incident occurs. However, we have been advised that the benefits are restricted to the borders of the United States. Additionally, if they are not a member of the Jockeys’ Guild, they would not be eligible for our membership benefits. Please see the response to 3.

5. Please provide all sources of funding for your jockey association.

The Jockeys’ Guild is funded by two sources. Racing associations contribute to the Guild through a daily fee and a dollar amount per starter at their track. A portion of those funds are restricted based on the agreements that we have with the racetracks and the funds must be used accordingly. Additionally, our members contribute, through $100 annual dues and $4 or $5 per mount, which is capped at 1,000 mounts.

6. Please advise if it is mandatory for jockeys to be a member of your organization.

Participation in the Jockeys’ Guild is entirely voluntary.

7. Please provide all sources of funding for the jockey benefits that your members receive, including contributions from the jockeys, the owners, your association, the government and racing bodies, etc.

With regards to the benefits that are provided by the Guild to its members, please see the response to No. 5.

With regards to the on-track accident policies that are provided in the non-workers’ compensation states, with the exception of two jurisdictions, the racing associations provide the funding for the policies. In the workers’ compensation states, the racing associations provide a catastrophic insurance policy.

There are various additional benefits that qualifying jockeys may receive, including the follows:

  • California Workers’ Compensation Plan:
  • California Jockeys’ Health Insurance Plan: Unclaimed refunds shall be distributed to the organization that is responsible for negotiating purse agreements, satellite wagering agreements, and all other business agreements on behalf of the horsemen participating in the racing meeting for the purpose of negotiating, in good faith, an agreement of at least three years’ duration with a jockeys’ organization to provide health and welfare benefits to California licensed jockeys, former California licensed jockeys, and their dependents if those persons contribute to the plan and do not receive welfare benefits pursuant to Section 19613.The jockeys contribute a certain amount per mount to the plan for the health insurance.
  • California Jockeys’ Pension Plan: Based on legislation, approximately $1 million per year will be provided from ADW to establish a pension plan for qualifying California jockeys. All licensed California jockeys are eligible to participate in the plan. Several million dollars have already accumulated in the pension plan, which will be allocated to an individual account for each eligible jockey. A contribution will be made for every race that a jockey rides.
  • New York Workers’ Compensation Plan: The Jockeys Injury Compensation fund provides workers compensation coverage, including the on-going medical care for on-track related injuries, for both jockeys and exercise riders. The funding is provided by the owners, through deduction from purses, and by trainers, through a per-stall fee (typically passed along to the owners as a part of the trainer’s day rate.)
  • New York Jockeys’ Health Insurance Plan: The Health Insurance for qualifying jockeys is funded through the deposit of one and one-half percent of the gross purse enhancement amount from video lottery gaming at NYRA and Finger Lakes Race Track.
  • New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Plan:
  • New Jersey Jockeys’ Health Insurance Plan: Breakage moneys and outstanding pari-mutuel ticket moneys resulting from wagering at the off-track wagering facility or through the account wagering system on races conducted by the out-of state track shall be distributed as follows: $150,000 annually to Jockey’s Health and Welfare.
  • Maryland Workers’ Compensation Plan: The Fund secures workmen's compensation insurance coverage, on a blanket basis, for jockeys licensed by the Maryland Racing Commission to ride thoroughbred horses. The premiums are paid by an assessment levied on every licensed thoroughbred owner and trainer.
  • Delaware Jockeys’ Health Insurance Plan: Delaware Jockey’s Health and Welfare Fund – Senate Bill 338 established the Delaware Jockey’s Health and Welfare Benefit Board to oversee annual payments of $350,000.00 for use towards insurance for the Jockeys that are eligible for enrolment in the Delaware Plan. The Board will pay from the Fund for health coverage for active jockeys who regularly ride in Delaware, eligible retired jockeys and disabled Delaware jockeys.
  • Pennsylvania Jockeys’ Health Insurance Plan:$250,000 shall be paid annually by the horsemen’s organization to the thoroughbred jockeys or standardbred drivers’ organization at the racetrack, at which the licensed racing entity operates, for health insurance, life insurance or other benefits to active and disabled thoroughbred jockeys or standardbred drivers in accordance with the rules and eligibility requirements of that organization.

8. Please provide a description of all benefits provided to the jockeys who are members of your organization such as disability benefits including temporary or permanent disabilities, death benefits, pension plans, medical insurance and coverage, etc.

  • The following benefits are provided to qualifying members, in good standing:
  • Life Insurance.24/7 coverage
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance.24/7 coverage
  • Temporary Disability Benefits. $250/wk for the first 8 weeks, then $200/wk. for the remaining 96 weeks. Total benefit period not to exceed 104 weeks. Injury must have occurred on track.
  • Health Insurance Reimbursement. Members riding enough mounts at tracks that contribute to the Jockeys’ Guild shall qualify for funds to assist with payment of health insurance and/or medical expenses.
  • Negotiation of riding fees and representation with the racing authorities in all matters affecting Jockeys.
  • Permanently Disabled Member Benefits.
  • Members have the option to participate in a self-funded retirement plan

9. Please provide a description of benefits provided for retired jockeys, if any, in addition to the benefits provided to active riders.

On a national basis, there are not any benefits for retired jockeys, with the exception of the jockeys who are enrolled in the California Pension Plan. Retired Jockeys’ Guild members can remain a member in good standing by paying dues at a reduced rate and have the option of maintaining their life insurance policy.

10. Please advise if your association receives any of the fines paid by jockeys as a result of racing infractions or violations.

No. With a few exceptions, fines are paid to the racing commissions.

11. Please provide any and all information pertaining to the medical standards and guidelines or requirements during race meets. For example, the number of doctors, medical personnel, ambulances, relations with medical trauma centres, etc.

Medical Standards in the United States vary by jurisdiction. The Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) or Model Rule requires 1 paramedic and 1 EMT during training hours and 2 paramedics during racing. Some of the jurisdictions and tracks have adopted the Model Rule. Most racecourses do have 2 ambulances and will try to have an ambulance or a chase vehicle follow the field while racing. Many tracks will have a first aid room, some staffed with a doctor or a nurse, for jockey evaluation after minor falls. Major falls usually result in immediate transfer to the nearest hospital.

In addition to the ARCI Model Rule, the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance Code of Standards lists all standards with which accredited racing facilities must comply. The Jockeys’ Guild worked with the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance to establish a Medical Director Committee to create guidelines pertaining to all aspects of medical care, particularly the care that is afforded to riders and others who sustain traumatic injuries. The purpose of which is to ensure that accredited racing facilities demonstrate a clear, comprehensive plan to provide timely, quality medical care to those who are injured or become ill on racetrack grounds.

The vast majority of racetracks only have paramedics, and in some cases, EMTs. The vast majority do not have medical directors, doctors, or nurses at the racetracks. As such, the return to ride evaluation is a problem for jockeys, who will then see a doctor or medical professional who does not understand the risks of returning to ride too soon or the hazards of the profession.

For the past several years, the Guild has been working to assure that there is a minimum of paramedics during training and racing hours. Additionally, we have been working to establish a Jockeys Health Information System (JHIS), which is a database of the jockeys’ medical information to be accessed by all of the racetracks throughout the country, as well as implementation of concussion protocols and return to ride guidelines. However, the support we have received from the industry is limited.

12. If required, who is responsible for the cost of liability policies for coverage of the jockeys in the event of an accident?

It is not required. With that said, the racetracks provide the on-track accident policies in the event of accidents in the non-workers compensation states. However, unlike some countries, the jockeys in the United States are not required to have individual liability policies.

13. Please advise if your organization has a charity fund to assist riders (both active and retired) with hardships and who provides the funding.

The Jockeys’ Guild does not assist members with hardships directly, but the organization assists two separate entities that provide funding.

The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund – Assists jockeys who have suffered an injury on track that restricts them from working. Benefits include $1000/month stipend and payment of medical insurance to cover all prescription medications and doctor visits.

The Jockey Club Safety Net- is a charitable trust which provides, on a confidential basis, financial relief and assistance to needy members of the Thoroughbred industry and their families.

14. Please provide the standards for the safety vest and for the helmets for the jockeys. Who is responsible for inspecting the equipment to make sure that it is in compliance with the rules. Is any of the equipment provided by or paid for by the association or others?

Most racing jurisdictions have adopted the ARCI Model Rule on helmets and vests which allows for any helmet or vest that meets any of the international standards.

ARCI Model Rule


Z. Safety Equipment

(1) Helmets

Any person mounted on a horse or stable pony on association grounds must wear a properly secured safety helmet at all times. Additionally, all members of the starting gate crew must adhere to this regulation at all times while performing their duties or handling a horse. For the purpose of this regulation, a member of the starting crew means any person licensed as an assistant starter or any person who handles a horse in the starting gate. The helmet must comply with one of the following minimum safety standards or later revisions: a) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM 1163); b)European Standards (EN-1384 or PAS-015 or VG1);c) Australian/New Zealand Standards (AS/NZ 3838; ord) ARB HS 2012); or Snell Equestrian Standard 2001.

(2) Vests

Any person mounted on a horse or stable pony on the association grounds must wear a properly-secured safety vest at all times. Additionally, all members of the starting gate crew must also adhere to this regulation at all times while performing their duties or handling a horse. For the purpose of this regulation, a member of the starting gate crew means any person licensed as an assistant starter or any person who handles a horse at the starting gate. The safety vest must comply with one of the following minimum standards or later revisions: (a) British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA):2000 Level 1 (b) Euro Norm (EN) 13158:2000 Level 1 (c) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F2681-08 or F1937. (d) Shoe and Allied Trade Research Association (SATRA) Jockey Vest Document M6 Issue 3 (e) Australian Racing Board (ARB) Standard 1.1998

All jockeys pay for and provide their own equipment.

There is much debate as to who is responsible for checking the equipment, whether it is the racetracks or the racing commissions, and it is rarely enforced in the majority. However, racecourse stewards are generally in charge of inspecting equipment to ensure it conforms to the rules. Some states have a specific steward designated to track safety, “Safety Steward”, and do a good job of monitoring equipment. Most do a poor job and uncertified equipment is commonly used.

15. Is there a minimum and/or maximum age for licensing? Is schooling or training mandated?

The minimum age for licensing in most states is 16 years of age. Some states require 18 years or proof of licensing in another state. No schooling or training is mandated. Prior to licensing however, an applicant may have to show competence by breaking out of the gate and getting approval from the starter, outrider, and stewards.

16. Please explain with regards to the kitchens in the jockey quarter or food that is available to riders during the race day.

Some, but not all tracks in the United States have kitchens in the jockeys’ rooms and provide food to order. Kitchens in the jockeys’ rooms are becoming fewer and fewer as management at many racetracks are looking to cut costs and they feel that eliminating the kitchens is a means to do so, replacing them instead with vending machines. Menus are generally short order with popular items such as hamburgers, deli sandwiches, and fried foods. Most will offer a soup and/or salad, but usually the quality is poor. Little consideration is given to healthy eating and dietary needs.

17. Please advise the minimum scale of weights for riders in your country. Additionally, please advise what equipment is included when a jockey weighs out before the race.

Most racing jurisdictions in the United States have adopted the ARCI Model Rule for minimum weights and equipment that can be weighed with, in and out. Effectively, this rule sets the minimum weight for journeymen jockeys at 116 pounds.



With the exception of apprentice allowances, handicap races, three (3) year old horses entered to run in races against horses four (4) years old and upwards, and the allowance provided in subsection (2) of this section, no jockey shall be assigned a weight of less than 118 pounds. For three (3) year old horses entered to run in races against horses four (4) years old and upwards from January 1 through August 31, no jockey shall be assigned a weight of less than 116 pounds.

  1. Except in handicaps, fillies two (2) years old shall be allowed three (3) pounds, and fillies and mares three (3) years old and upward shall be allowed five (5) pounds before September 1, and three (3) pounds thereafter in races where competing against horses of the opposite sex.
  2. Quarter Horses, Appaloosas and Paints minimum scale weights shall be 124 pounds for two-year-olds, 126 pounds for three-year-olds, and 128 pounds for four-year-olds and older.
  3. A notice shall be included in the daily program that all jockeys will carry approximately three (3) pounds more than the published weight to account for safety equipment (vest and helmet) that is not included in require weighing out procedures. Additionally, upon stewards’ approval, jockeys may weigh in with an additional three (3) pounds for inclement weather gear.


(a) A jockey's weight shall include his/her clothing, boots, saddle and its attachments and any other equipment except the bridle, bit, blinkers, goggles, number cloth and safety equipment including helmet, vest, over-girth, reins and breast collar.

(b) Upon Stewards approval, jockeys may be allowed up to three (3) pounds more than published weights to account for inclement weather clothing and equipment.


(a) A jockey shall weigh in at no less than the same weight at which he/she weighed out, and if under that weight, and after consideration of mitigating circumstances by the board of stewards, his/her mount may be disqualified from any portion of the purse money.

(b)In the event of such disqualification, all monies wagered on the horse shall be refunded unless the race has been declared official.

(c)A jockey’s weight shall include clothing, boots, saddle and its attachments and any other equipment except the bridle, bit, blinkers, number cloth and over-girth, reins and breast collar.

(d)Upon approval of the stewards, the jockeys may be allowed up to three (3) pounds more than published weights to account for inclement weather clothing and equipment.

(e)The post-race weight of jockeys includes any sweat, dirt and mud that have accumulated on the jockey, jockey’s clothing, jockey’s safety equipment and over-girth. This accounts for additional weight, depending on specific equipment, as well as weather, track and racing conditions.

18. Please advise if your organization provides assistance and education pertaining health and well-being such nutrition, psychological, job retraining, etc.

The Jockeys’ Guild has no formal programs in place for nutrition, psychological, or job retraining.

19. Is jockey advertising allowed in your country? If so, what are the requirements to allow for jockeys to wear the advertising? Is it the individual riders who enter into the contracts with the sponsors or does your organization handle to negotiations? How are the proceeds of the contracts distributed or do all of the funds go to the individual jockey?

Jockey advertising is allowed in certain jurisdictions. However, the states such as Kentucky and New York, have such restrictive requirements, that it is virtually impossible for the jockeys to obtain sponsors. In those jurisdictions, the jockeys must obtain approval by the owner of each horse that they ride, every time they ride a horse. Additionally, the sponsor cannot conflict with the race association’s sponsors for either the meet, or the particular race day. California does not have such strict enforcement of the jockey advertising. Therefore, there are many West Coast jockeys who have been able to secure annual sponsorship agreements.

While it is typically the individuals who secure the sponsorship agreements, members of the Guild have granted the organization the right to enter into corporate sponsorship agreement(s) for jockey apparel in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup races and such other specific races as may be determined by the Board of Directors of the Guild. However, in light of the restrictions as indicated above, it has been difficult for the Guild to be able to enter into such negotiations.

20. How are the jockey agents and valets paid? What is the usual percentage that the agents receive? What is the usual percentage for valets?

Jockey agents and valets are paid out of the individual jockeys riding fees usually on a percentage basis. The agent’s fees are negotiated individually between the jockey and the agent but as a general rule will be 25%-30% of the riding fee. The valets are employees of the racetrack and receive a salary or hourly wage. The jockeys then pay an additional percentage to their valets and the fees are negotiated individually between the jockey and the valet. However, as a general rule will the valet will receive 5%-10% of the jockey’s riding fee.