Jockey Agent Career Profile
A jockey agent interacts with racehorse trainers to secure riding engagements for the jockey that they represent. Jockey agents are primarily concerned with booking mounts for the riders that they represent, as well as negotiating the rider’s fees and expenses. Securing mounts involves maintaining relationships with racehorse trainers, evaluating races to determine the rider’s best available opportunities, and scheduling the rider so that they will be in a position to compete in as many races as possible.
The jockey agent works with the rider to identify racing circuits where they will have the most success, which will translate to higher earnings for all parties involved.
Jockey agents are also responsible for a variety of additional administrative tasks such as scheduling interviews and appearances, keeping track of expenses and income, making travel and hotel arrangements, and managing most aspects of the jockey’s business affairs.
Agents must also keep a complete log of all riding engagements that are booked for each rider, and these records must be made available to the racing stewards upon request. If an agent ceases to represent a jockey, written notification must be provided to the stewards, and the engagement log must be turned over so that outstanding contracts can be honored.
Career Options for Jockey Agents
Most racing jurisdictions allow a jockey agent to represent up to two jockeys at a time, though in a few states (like New York) they may only represent one rider at a time. It may be permissible in some jurisdictions for an agent to represent up to three jockeys provided that one of the three is an apprentice rider. Regulations on agent representation may vary from one state to the next, so agents must pay attention to the rules governing them if their jockeys “pick up their tack” and move to another racing circuit.
Agents may specialize in working with riders in the Thoroughbred industry, Quarter Horse industry, or with other racing breeds. The majority of jockey agent opportunities tend to be with Thoroughbred racing.
Jockey agents may also be involved with other equine-related pursuits as a means of supplementing their income. One common option is to work as a bloodstock agent, brokering deals to sell horses or stallion seasons. Bloodstock agents are also usually compensated on a commission basis.
Education and Training
While there is no minimum educational requirement for becoming a jockey agent, most agents have gained significant experience in the horse racing industry before representing clients. The majority of jockey agents have earned at least a high school diploma, and many have completed college degrees in business or equine studies. It is common for jockey agents to have previous experience on the track working as a trainer, assistant trainer, jockey, exercise rider, or barn foreman.
Jockey agents must be licensed in the states in which they represent riders. If they have not had an agent license in any jurisdiction previously, a candidate must provide proof of a previously held occupational license in any other area (i.e., owner, trainer, jockey, or veterinarian) and pass a written or oral exam administered by the racing stewards. Licenses must be renewed each year through payment of a fee (which is under $100 in many states). Some states allow agents to pay in advance for up to three years at a time.
Jockey agents are compensated on a percentage basis, usually around 25 to 30 percent of the jockey’s earnings. A jockey generally earns a flat per-mount fee (up to $100) plus the winning jockey gets 10 percent of the first-place purse money.
Jockey agents can expect to earn high salaries if their riders are successful in either a high volume of races or in races that offer large purses. Less successful jockeys are not able to earn as much, and therefore are unable to pass along significant earnings to their agent and valet.
While it can take a while for a jockey agent to build up their reputation, a top agent can earn significant compensation for their services. This is particularly true if they can secure a relationship with a rider that is in high demand.
The North American Racing Academy (NARA) estimates that there are approximately 1500 licensed jockeys in the United States. While jockeys do not always decide to seek representation from an agent, most of them do use an agent’s services. There is always a demand for qualified agents who have developed strong connections with trainers.