How Much Can I Win?
Now comes the fun part. Let’s talk about the winning and earning potential of your racehorse on track in Texas.
During the 2022 live Thoroughbred race meet at Sam Houston Race Park, prize purses for races range from $10,000 to $400,000, with the average purse estimated at $26,391.
Prize Money Payouts Per Race
Based on the average purse amount, if your horse wins the race, you will collect $15,835.
Accredited Texas-bred horses may be eligible to earn estimated incentive funds from 3% up to 22.33% of the winning purse in designated races.
See below for what the jockey of your horse will be paid.
Note: When your Thoroughbred is ready to race in Texas, it will be transported to Sam Houston Race Park or Lone Star Park where there is no cost for stabling and no cost to enter your horse into a race, other than a stakes race.
How Races Are Created?
In America, horse owners provide the racing stock upon which bets are made and the track provides the facility, including stabling for the horses. A cut from every dollar wagered goes toward purses, the money offered on each race in exchange for owners running their horses. In 2019, Texas passed legislation that also directs part of the money from sales tax on feed, tack and horse products toward funding purses.
So trainers can make plans for their horses, the racing secretary (the executive in charge of putting the daily race programs together) creates a “condition book” that spells out the types of races for which entries will be taken. Each race will stipulate the distance, racing surface, age and horse gender and any other conditions that must be met in order to be entered. That can include how many races a horse has previously won, or how many times it has won a certain type of race. If it's a claiming race, the condition includes the purchase price for which a licensed owner can put in a "claim" before the race to acquire a horse afterward. If successful in the claim, the horse has a new owner after the race, though the previous owner gets any purse money accrued.
The condition book usually covers up to a month of a track’s racing program. Entries generally are taken and the racing cards put together three days to a week out. The racing secretary selects which races will be used on a given day. Races with the most entries generally are the ones used. However, the racing secretary might use ones with fewer entries to accommodate a better class of horse or to serve as a prep race for a bigger race later during the meet.
After entries close, the fields and their post positions are set via a “pill pull.” That’s where an entry blank is pulled out of a box and a numbered pill signifying the starting position for that horse is shaken out of a container. The racing office staff then creates the “overnight” sheet (so named when entries were taken 24 hours before the races) listing the order of the races, the horses in post-position order and their jockeys and trainers. The overnight sheet also lists additional races for which entries will be taken for the next program. When a race doesn’t attract enough entries to be used, the racing secretary might offer it again in the hopes of attracting an additional horse or two to make the race “go.”
How Does a Jockey End Up On a Certain Horse?
Jockeys are independent contractors, generally with agents hired to line up their mounts. Jockeys might have relationships with certain trainers or owners and ride most of their horses. Trainers give agents “calls,” meaning they have the rider lined up for certain races in the condition book.
Jockeys often come out for morning training for timed workouts on the horses they’ve been riding or will ride in an upcoming race. When a jockey rode more than one horse in their last starts, don’t assume the rider picked his scheduled mount over the others. He or she might already have been committed to ride that horse. Sometimes trainers who have strong relationships with a jockey don’t make up their mind to go in a race until late, when the rider already had a mount.
Jockeys generally are paid 10 percent of what a winning mount earns. The scale varies after that but typically might be 5 percent of the horse’s earnings for second and third place. While it differs from state to state or track to track, jockeys who don’t finish in the top three typically get a set fee — called a losing jocks’ mount — for finishing fourth through last. The fee generally is on a sliding scale based on the total purse for the race. The industry standard for jockeys to pay their agents is 25 to 30 percent, though those are individual deals they work out.