Black Winning Jockeys in the Kentucky Derby

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About the Book

Oliver Lewis was champion jockey of the Kentucky Derby in 1875 with a winning race time of two minutes and 37 seconds. Jockey Willie Simms won in 1896, bringing his horse in at two minutes and seven seconds. James Winkfield was the winning jockey in both 1901 and 1902 with winning race times of two minutes and seven seconds and two minutes and eight seconds, respectively. Each of these men possessed the skill and power necessary to spur a horse to glorious victory. All are members of the small, select group of Derby-winning jockeys who were African Americans. The stakes were high: Black jockeys who won a race in the late 1700s and 1800s sometimes won freedom from slavery as well.
This work examines the presence of black jockeys in the Kentucky Derby, from the first instance of slaves working as stable hands and tending their masters’ horses to the first black jockey to win the prestigious Kentucky Derby in 1875 and the continued participation of black jockeys in the Kentucky Derby. Black owners and trainers in the Kentucky Derby are also discussed. Three appendices list black winning jockeys, black trainers and black owners of Kentucky Derby horses.

About the Author(s)

James Robert Saunders is a professor of English at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Lifelong equestrian Monica Renae Saunders is a writer and researcher living in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Bibliographic Details

James Robert Saunders and Monica Renae Saunders
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 142
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1402-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1669-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments    vii

List of Illustrations    xi

Introduction    1

Oliver Lewis (May 17, 1875)     9

William Walker (May 22, 1877)     19

James Carter (May 21, 1878)     25

George Garrett Lewis (May 18, 1880)     28

“Babe” Hurd (May 16, 1882)     33

Erskine “Babe” Henderson (May 14, 1885)     38

Isaac Lewis (May 11, 1887)     44

Isaac Murphy (May 16, 1884; May 14, 1890; May 13, 1891)     50

Alonzo Clayton (May 11, 1892)     66

James Perkins (May 6, 1895)     72

Willie Simms (May 6, 1896; May 4, 1898)     77

James Winkfield (April 29, 1901; May 3, 1902)     87

Conclusion     97

Appendix A: Summary of Black Kentucky Derby Winners     111

Appendix B: Black Owners of Kentucky Derby Horses     112

Appendix C: Black Trainers of Kentucky Derby Horses     113

Notes     115

Bibliography     121

Index<     125

Book Reviews & Awards

“polished and straightforward”—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society; “an excellent work”—Horse-Races.