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Jockeys ride thoroughbred horses in professional competitions. Jockeys must become familiar with the horses they ride on a regular basis and often are part of their training. A jockey contracts with the horse's owner or trainer and may ride as many as 10 horses in a single day.
A jockey usually specializes in a specific type of racing, such as steeplechase, jump racing, or thoroughbred racing. The jockey learns the horse's strengths and weaknesses and works with the trainer to develop a strategy for each race. In addition to receiving a mount fee for riding the horse, jockeys usually receive a percentage of the purse if the horse is one of the top three finishers in a race. In quarterhorse and obstacle racing, the horses are guided by riders. Drivers sit in special carts in harness racing, using the reins to steer their horses to victory. There are approximately 1,500 professional jockeys employed in the United States.