Legacy of Black Jockeys
Black horsemen played a vital role in shaping early American turf history, and the Kentucky Derby is no exception. The history of the Kentucky Derby and Black horsemen are intertwined. The Derby and Churchill Downs owe a great deal to those who helped shape America's greatest race. Thirteen of the 15 riders in the first Derby were Black, and Black reinsmen won 15 of the Derby's first 28 runnings.
On June 25, 1980, the 11 Black jockeys who rode a total of 15 Derby winners between 1875 and 1902, were honored by the NAACP and the Lincoln Foundation. A plaque commemorating the occasion is now in the Kentucky Derby Museum's collection. Their names are listed below:
Buchanan (1884), Riley (1890), Kingman (1891)
Joe Cotton (1885)
Ben Brush (1896), Plaudit (1898)
His Eminence (1901), Alan-a-Dale (1902)