Remembering Jimmy Winkfield

The sport of horse racing is the only instance where the participation of blacks stopped almost completely while the sport itself continued—a sad commentary on American life…Isaac Murphy, so highly admired during his time for his skills and character, would have been ashamed of his sport.  –Arthur Ashe, quoted by Edward Hotaling in They’re Off! Horse Racing at Saratoga

Isaac Murphy was the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times, and he was the first black jockey to be inducted in the Thoroughbred racing Hall of Fame, in 1955. Oliver Lewis, the winning jockey in the first Kentucky Derby, in 1875, was African-American, one of 13 black jockeys in a 15-horse race that year. Black jockeys won 15 of the first 28 Kentucky Derbies.

But at most racetracks in this country now, you’d have a hard time finding an African-American in the saddle.

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