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:

Oliver Lewis

Aristides (1875)

William Walker

Baden-Baden (1877)

George Garrett Lewis

Fonso (1880)

Babe Hurd

Apollo (1882)

Isaac Murphy

Buchanan (1884), Riley (1890), Kingman (1891)

Erskine Henderson

Joe Cotton (1885)

Isaac Lewis

Montrose (1887)

Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton

Azra (1892)

James “Soup” Perkins

Halma (1895)

Willie Simms

Ben Brush (1896), Plaudit (1898)

Jimmy Winkfield

His Eminence (1901), Alan-a-Dale (1902)

Learn more about the Kentucky Derby and its history:
Privacy Policy
Thank you to our sponsor