Black sports history fact #2

Horse racing… Was a sport that was once dominated by African-Americans, in the late 1800s.

Black jockeys actually won at least 15 of the 28 Kentucky Derbys. Isaac Murphy is easily the most famous and the most successful black jockey and was the very first one to win the Kentucky Derby. He also was the first jockey to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Saratoga, NY.

Willie Simms is the only jockey to win all the Triple Crown races. He also introduced the short stirrup in professional riding. Shortly after that though, horse racing became exclusive to the white man, and blacks weren’t allowed (which explains the limited number of black jockeys today). The Jockey Club was formed and blacks were strategically forced out of horse racing. Quickly, by the mid-1920s, all but a few black jockeys were gone.

“Once economics, big money came into racing, the black jockey was pushed out,” said president of the Baltimore based group African-Americans in Horse Racing Inez Chappell. “And racism is still alive. There are black jockeys out there, but they do what they have to do. They claim to be Jamaican or something else.”


Source: Associated Press, 1997.


About Author

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

%d bloggers like this: