Whose Kentucky Derby Is It

Updated: May 5, 2006



There will be a Hint

of the Kentucky Derby long ago


2 Black jockeys riding

for the first Time

in recent Memory

Two Black jockeys in the most famous 2 minutes in Sports. The last time there was even One was back in 2000. Shaun Bridgmohan will be riding today aboard Private Bow. Joining him at the Gate will be Patrick Husbands riding Seaside Retreat.

True both are Brothers from the Caribbean. Not quite African Americans. But they came out of Africa originally as we all did.

Both are worth rooting for. If either beat the odds they would be the first Black jockey to win the Derby in 104 years.

It was all very different

back in 1875

the first Kentucky Derby

won by African American

Oliver Lewis aboard Aristides

Between 1875 and 1902 African Americans dominated the Kentucky Derby.

13 of 15 jockey’s in the first Kentucky Derby were African Americans. After the Civil War until the start of the 20th century, African Americans won the majority of Kentucky Derbys.

Today the Derby is the oldest continually held sports event in the U.S..

In the 1st Derby on May 17, 1875 the race was longer than today a mile and one half, and no roses for the winner until 1896. Back 131 years ago we know the weather was good and the track fast and 10,000 fans watched the race. Aristides ridden to victory by Oliver Lewis was trained by another legendary African American in horse racing Ansel Williamson.

Williamson learned to train horses while he was a slave in Virginia and after the Civil War began working as a professional trainer. The same year his horse won the first Kentucky Derby, Calvin another horse he trained won the Belmont Stakes. Williamson during his very successful career in the second half of the 19th century also had winners in other major races of the day the Travers Stakes, the Jerome Handicap and Withers Stakes.

Ansel Williamson was named

to the Racing Hall of Fame

in 1998

There were many other excellent African American trainers in those days and they along with Black jockeys were common at most tracks. Horse racing over 100 years ago was far far more integrated than it is today with virtually no African Americans in the Sport.


African American jockeys won 15 of the first 28 Kentucky Derbys between 1875 and 1902. That’s right over half of the Derbys up until 1902. After 1902 vicious racism pure and simple in the form of Jim Crow “laws” wiped out virtually all African American involvement in racing except for jobs such as stable “boys” and as anonymous laborers for generations. Right up until now.

After 1902 it was 79 years before Marion St. Julien became the next African American to ride in the Kentucky Derby in 2000. St.

Julian in that one Kentucky Derby remains the only appearance of an African American in the Kentucky Derby since 1902. With none on the Horizon.

Here is the Honor Roll of

African Americans who have

won the Kentucky Derby

Alonzo Clayton

Erskine Henderson

Babe Hurd

George Lewis

Isaac Lewis

Oliver Lewis

Isaac Murphy

James Perkins

Willie Simms

William Walker

James Winkfield

You will find bios of all of them on the official Kentucky Derby Website


The very last African American Kentucky Derby winner James Winkfield had the distinction of winning 2 consecutive years 1901 and 1902. His entire life is one epic story that took him all over the world long before airplanes, and Winkfield in one of the indelible figures in all of sports history. The latest biography of James Winkfield has just been published and is written by New York Times reporter Joe Drape.

Winkfield has the illustrious moniker The Black Maestro. The title of the new book which is subtitled “The Epic Life of an American Legend.” It is a story of triumph, challenge and unquenchable spirit as much inspiration today as when he lived.

Watching the Derby today

turn your attention to

Shaun Bridgmohan &

Patrick Husbands

even more Dream

of a Day

when African Americans

return to Glory on the Track

witnessed from

1875 – 1902

then let’s make it

Real Again !

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