The Kentucky Derby is not just a pinnacle of horse racing; it’s a cultural phenomenon that fuels a vibrant job market, offering diverse career opportunities for professionals across various sectors. This list highlights the top 15 Kentucky Derby jobs, complete with salary information and job descriptions, to help you navigate this exciting field.

Top Kentucky Derby Jobs (In Order of Salary)

From the guardians of the track’s integrity to the creators of its signature style, each role plays a crucial part in orchestrating one of the most prestigious events in horse racing. Whether you’re drawn to the thrill of competition, the elegance of Derby fashion, or the satisfaction of ensuring a flawless event experience, there’s a place for you in the rich tradition of the Kentucky Derby. Here we break down the top 15 Kentucky Derby jobs:

1. Milliner

Salary: The average milliner’s salary is $28,521 annually (varies by experience, reputation, and clientele).

wo people at the Kentucky Derby wearing elegant hats made by a milliner

Description: Milliners, or hat makers, hold a unique and celebrated position in the cultural tapestry of the Kentucky Derby, crafting the elaborate and stylish headwear that has become a hallmark of Derby fashion. With an artistic eye and meticulous craftsmanship, these professionals design and create a wide range of hats, from extravagant wide-brimmed hats adorned with feathers and flowers to more understated yet elegant fascinators. Their creations not only complement the festive attire of Derby attendees but also serve as a vibrant expression of individual style and tradition. Milliners often work closely with clients to create custom designs that reflect personal tastes while paying homage to the event’s storied history. Their work, blending artistry with fashion, contributes significantly to the visual spectacle and tradition of the Kentucky Derby, making the milliner’s role indispensable in curating the iconic Derby experience. Through their skill and creativity, this Kentucky Derby Jobs ensures that the tradition of Derby hats continues to thrive, adding a touch of glamor and sophistication that enriches the overall ambiance of the event.

2. Race Steward

Salary: The average racetrack steward salary is $29,612 annually (varies significantly by experience and specific duties).

Description: Race stewards at the Kentucky Derby are the arbiters of fairness and integrity, holding a position of immense responsibility and respect. These seasoned professionals oversee the adherence to racing rules and regulations, ensuring that all participants compete on a level playing field. With a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of horse racing laws, they scrutinize race footage for any infractions, making critical decisions that can impact race outcomes. This Kentucky Derby job role extends beyond the track; stewards conduct pre-race inspections, review jockey conduct, and oversee the enforcement of safety protocols, ensuring the welfare of both horses and riders. Their judgments are delivered with authority and impartiality, reflecting their commitment to upholding the storied traditions and competitive spirit of the Derby.

3. Hospitality Staff

Salary: The average hospitality salary is $35,100 annually (varies by position and experience)

Description: The hospitality staff at the Kentucky Derby, encompassing bartenders, servers, and suite attendants, form the backbone of the event’s renowned service excellence. These dedicated individuals are on the front lines, ensuring every guest interaction is imbued with the warmth, elegance, and attentiveness the Derby is famous for. Bartenders craft signature cocktails, like the iconic mint julep, with an artistry and flair that contribute to the festive atmosphere. Servers navigate the bustling environment with poise, delivering culinary delights that showcase Kentucky’s rich culinary heritage, enhancing the overall dining experience. Suite attendants offer personalized services within the exclusive confines of the luxury suites, ensuring that every need is met with discretion and efficiency, from coordinating private betting services to ensuring an uninterrupted view of the races. This Kentucky Derby job contributes significantly to the opulent ambiance of the Derby, making each guest feel like a part of the storied tradition.  

4. Equine Care Specialist

Salary: The average equine care specialist salary is $46,404 annually

Description: Equine care specialists at the Kentucky Derby are the unsung heroes behind the scenes, dedicated to the health and well-being of the thoroughbred stars that captivate audiences worldwide. This Kentucky Derby job brings a deep understanding of equine health and physiology to their work, ensuring that each horse receives the highest standard of care. Their responsibilities encompass comprehensive nutritional management tailored to meet the individual needs of each thoroughbred, enhancing performance while ensuring overall health. Exercise routines are meticulously designed and implemented, balancing the demands of peak physical conditioning with the need for safety and injury prevention. Moreover, equine care specialists oversee a regimen of preventive medical care. They are prepared to address any health issues that may arise, working closely with veterinarians to provide treatments and interventions that uphold the welfare of these elite athletes.  

5. Track Maintenance Crew

Salary: The average track maintenance salary is $49,665 annually

Description: The racetrack maintenance crew at the Kentucky Derby is tasked with a comprehensive range of duties that safeguard the track’s integrity, from the texture and compaction of the racing surface to the maintenance of the turf and infield. Their agronomy and soil science expertise allows them to manage the track conditions, ensuring it is fast, safe, and fair for all competitors. Daily, they inspect and groom the track, adjusting the surface composition to account for weather conditions and wear and ensuring any irregularities are promptly addressed, minimizing the risk of injury to the thoroughbreds and jockeys and upholding the fairness of the competition, as the quality of the racing surface can significantly impact race outcomes. The maintenance crew’s dedication to excellence ensures that the storied Churchill Downs racetrack remains a symbol of the highest standards in the sport, providing a fitting stage for the drama and excitement of the Kentucky Derby.

6. Catering Services Manager

Salary: The average catering manager’s salary is $53,507 annually

Description: Catering services managers at the Kentucky Derby are at the forefront of creating culinary experiences that are as memorable as the race itself. With a focus on quality and innovation, these managers collaborate closely with renowned chefs to design menus featuring a mix of local Kentucky fare and gourmet international cuisine, ensuring that the offerings cater to diverse tastes and dietary preferences. This Kentucky Derby job’s responsibilities extend beyond menu planning; they also oversee the logistical aspects of food service, from the setup of dining areas to the coordination of seamless service operations, ensuring that each guest receives impeccable service, whether they’re enjoying a sit-down meal in a luxury suite or grabbing a bite at one of the many food stations around Churchill Downs. Catering services managers work tirelessly to source the finest ingredients, often highlighting local producers and sustainable practices, to provide guests with a delicious dining experience deeply connected to the region’s rich culinary heritage. 

7. Hospitality Manager

Salary: The average hospitality manager’s salary is $58,576 annually

Description: Hospitality managers at the Kentucky Derby play a crucial role in defining the event’s prestigious atmosphere, overseeing the operations of luxury suites, exclusive dining facilities, and VIP areas that offer unparalleled views and experiences. These professionals are tasked with ensuring that every guest receives top-tier service, embodying the warmth and hospitality for which Kentucky is renowned. They meticulously plan and execute all aspects of hospitality services, from staff selection and training to crafting exquisite menus that feature local cuisine and the Kentucky Derby’s iconic mint juleps. Hospitality managers coordinate with chefs, sommeliers, and interior designers to create spaces that reflect the elegance and tradition of the Derby..

8. Event Coordinator

Salary: The average event coordinator salary is $59,444 annually

A happy event coordinator for the Kentucky Derby thinking about Kentucky Derby Jobs

Description: Event coordinators for the Kentucky Derby are pivotal in orchestrating the seamless execution of the event, handling everything from the logistics of the iconic parade that sweeps through Louisville in the lead-up to the Derby to the meticulous planning required for the myriad of events that comprise the Derby Festival. This Kentucky Derby job involves detailed coordination with local vendors to ensure the supply of high-quality food, beverages, and souvenirs that capture the essence of the Derby experience. They liaise closely with Churchill Downs officials to facilitate the setup of viewing stands, betting stations, and the paddock area, ensuring each element meets the event’s high standards.

9. Media Relations Specialist

Salary: The average media relations specialist is $63,472 annually.

Description: Media Relations Specialists at the Kentucky Derby serve as the pivotal link between the event and the public, managing communications with the press and broadcasting the excitement of the Derby to a worldwide audience. This Kentucky Derby job crafts compelling narratives that capture the essence of the Derby, from the thunderous excitement of the races to the vibrant traditions that color the event, such as the fashion, the mint juleps, and the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home.” They coordinate press conferences, manage media credentials, and facilitate interviews, ensuring journalists have access to the information and resources needed to cover the event comprehensively. Their work involves not just reactive communications but also proactive storytelling, highlighting the stories of the horses, jockeys, trainers, and the myriad of other individuals who make the Derby a spectacle unlike any other. Through press releases, social media, and direct engagement with journalists and media outlets, Media Relations Specialists ensure that the Kentucky Derby’s narrative is shared far and wide, engaging existing fans and captivating new ones.  

10. Betting Analyst

Salary: The average sportsbook analyst’s salary is $73,261 annually.

Description: Betting analysts at the Kentucky Derby are the linchpins of the betting experience, providing attendees with crucial insights and data-driven predictions that inform betting strategies. This Kentucky Derby job dissects past performances, track conditions, and the subtleties of each contender’s preparation and pedigree to forecast race outcomes accurately. By synthesizing this information, betting analysts craft comprehensive guides and tips, making complex data accessible to seasoned bettors and novices. Through seminars, online content, and direct consultations, betting analysts empower attendees to make informed wagers, adding a layer of strategy and excitement to the anticipation of the race.

11. Marketing Specialist

Salary: The average marketing specialist’s salary is $78,276 annually

Description: Utilizing an array of channels, from traditional print and broadcast media to cutting-edge digital and social platforms, marketing specialists at the Kentucky Derby ensure the event’s visibility reaches every corner of the globe. These marketing experts collaborate closely with sponsors, local businesses, and the community to promote the Derby, creating partnerships that enhance the event’s profile and ensure it remains a pivotal fixture on the global sports calendar. Their innovative campaigns not only aim to increase ticket sales and viewership but also to celebrate the Kentucky Derby’s storied legacy, ensuring it continues to captivate and enchant audiences worldwide.

12. Ticketing Manager

Salary: The average ticketing manager’s salary is $106,639 annually

Description: Ticketing managers at the Kentucky Derby are the strategic planners behind the scenes, ensuring the seamless sale and distribution of tickets to one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the sporting calendar. Their expertise encompasses a broad spectrum of responsibilities, from managing seat allocations across various sections of Churchill Downs to curating exclusive VIP packages that offer unparalleled experiences. They employ advanced ticketing systems to facilitate an efficient purchasing process, addressing the high demand with precision and fairness. This Kentucky Derby job works diligently to ensure that fans worldwide can secure their place at the Derby, navigating the complexities of ticket sales with a focus on accessibility and customer satisfaction.  

13. Security Manager

Salary: The average security manager salary is $108,970 annually

Description: Security managers at the Kentucky Derby are instrumental in safeguarding the well-being of attendees, staff, and participants. Their expertise in crowd management is critical in navigating the complexities of an event that attracts thousands, ensuring smooth and safe movement throughout Churchill Downs. They develop and implement sophisticated emergency response strategies, meticulously planning for any scenario to ensure swift and effective resolution of incidents without disrupting the event’s festive atmosphere. This Kentucky Derby job works in close coordination with local law enforcement and emergency services, establishing a network of security measures that encompass not only the physical boundaries of the Derby but also the broader community hosting the event. 

14. Legal Advisor

Salary: The average legal advisor salary is $110,476 annually

Description: Legal advisors associated with the Kentucky Derby ensure that every facet of the event adheres to the complex web of local, state, and federal regulations that govern its operation. Their expertise spans a wide range of legal disciplines, including contracts, intellectual property, and event licensing, allowing them to meticulously draft and review agreements with sponsors, vendors, and partners to protect the interests of the Kentucky Derby and its participants. These professionals also play a critical role in ensuring compliance with gambling laws, a central element given the Derby’s prominence in the betting world. They work closely with regulatory bodies to navigate the intricacies of horse racing laws, ensuring that all wagering activities are conducted transparently and ethically. Moreover, this Kentucky Derby Job is instrumental in addressing any issues related to labor laws, safety regulations, and liability concerns, ensuring a safe and equitable environment for employees, participants, and attendees

15. Merchandising Manager

Salary: The average merchandising manager’s salary is $119,273 annually

A merchandising manager for the Kentucky Derby preparing merchandise to sell

Description: Merchandising managers at the Kentucky Derby play a crucial role in enriching the fan experience. Their work involves selecting and designing an array of merchandise, from fashionable apparel that reflects the Kentucky Derby’s iconic style to unique collectibles that serve as lasting mementos of the race day experience. These professionals possess a keen understanding of the Kentucky Derby’s rich heritage and the tastes of its global fan base, allowing them to create products that resonate deeply with attendees and fans alike. Whether it’s the official Derby hat that becomes a statement piece or the limited-edition prints that capture the thrill of the finish line, each item is crafted to let fans take home a tangible piece of the Derby’s unparalleled excitement. Merchandising managers collaborate with vendors and artisans to ensure the highest quality of craftsmanship, and they strategically present these items in on-site stores and online platforms, making it easy for fans to commemorate their experience.

Find Your Career at the Kentucky Derby

From the artistry of milliners to the strategic insights of betting analysts, the Kentucky Derby jobs show that many jobs are available within the sports industry, highlighting the potential for fulfilling and exciting careers.

We encourage both seasoned professionals and newcomers to the field to explore these opportunities further. Join the Jobs in Sports community by signing up for a free membership to gain access to a job seeker profile and the ability to post your resume.

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