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Kentucky Derby 2016

  Kentucky Derby

   African American Jockeys

| Jockeys | Trainers | Owners |

Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton
Erskine Henderson
Babe Hurd
George Garret Lewis
Isaac Lewis
Oliver Lewis
Isaac Murphy
James "Soup" Perkins
Willie Simms
William Walker
James Winkfield
Marlon St. Julien

Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton in 1892 rallied Azra to an impressive nose victory in a three field to become the youngest jockey at 15 to win the Derby. Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1876, Clayton followed his brother into the riding profession. He launched his career on the track as an exerciser rider for E.J. "Lucky" Baldwin in Chicago during the summer of 1888. He stayed with Baldwin for about a year before moving on to work for D.A. Honig, who had a string of s in Clifton, N.J. He rode a named Redstone in his first race in 1890 at the Clifton track, and earned his first career victory later that year. Clayton had four Derby mounts in his career with a victory, two seconds and a third. Clayton also guided Azra to victories in the Champagne Stakes, Clark Handicap and Travers. He also won the Kentucky Oaks twice as he rode Selika in 1894 and Voladora in 1895. Clayton also distinguished himself by capturing the 1893 Churchill Downs jockey crown during the fall meet. He is only one of three African-American jockeys to compete in the Preakness as he finished third in 1896.

Erskine Henderson became the sixth African-American jockey to win the Derby as he piloted Joe Cotton to a neck victory in 1885. It marked the third and final mount in the Derby for Henderson who finished ninth and seventh, respectively, in 1882 and 1883. Trained by African-American conditioner Abe Perry, Henderson also guided Joe Cotton to victories in the Tennessee and Coney Island Derbies that year. Although detailed information is not available it is reported that Henderson later became a trainer.

Babe Hurd rallied Apollo to a half-length victory in the 1882 Derby. He also achieved fame as a steeplechase rider. He died December 7, 1928 at Longridge Farm on Paris Pike near Lexington, Kentucky.

George Garret Lewis rode Fonso to victory in the 1880 Derby despite a claim of foul, the first in the history of the race. He died at his home in Hutchinson Station, KY approximately two months following the Derby (July 5, 1880) from internal injuries he sustained in a June 8 spill during a mile race in St. Louis, Missouri. Lewis was reported to be 18 at the time of his death.

Isaac Lewis rode in four consecutive Kentucky Derbys, 1886-89, and won the 13th running in 1887 as a 17-year-old aboard Montrose. Also on the same day as his Derby victory, he booted home Brookful to first-place finishes in the two heats of the Frank Fehr City Brewery Purse. Lewis, who was born on a farm in Bourbon County, KY, began his riding career as an 11-year-old under the tutelage of trainer Byron McClelland. His first career victory was for H.P. McGrath, the owner of Aristides, the winner of the 1875 inaugural Derby. Lewis developed a reputation over the years for getting his s away from the gate quickly and being a fearless rider with courage on both turns.

Oliver Lewis rode Aristides to a two-length upset victory in the inaugural running of the Derby in 1875. The time, 2:37 3/4, established an American record for the 1 1/2 miles. Lewis was instructed to send Aristides to the lead to ensure a fast pace and set up the race for stablemate Chesapeake. He sent Aristides to the front and as the field rounded the far turn and headed for home, Chesapeake was far behind. The owner of the two s, H. Price McGrath, told Lewis "Go on!" when he looked over at McGrath for a sign. Later that year he guided Aristides to a second in the Belmont. He won three races during Churchill's inaugural meet to take the honor as leading rider. Lewis never rode in another Kentucky Derby but was on hand for the 33rd running in 1907. Detailed information is not available, but it was reported that he later worked for a bookmaker (legal at the time) an provided detailed information on how the s ran. This method of race result notes was later developed into charts which served as a forerunner to the Daily Racing Form and Equibase systems.

Isaac Murphy is considered one of the greatest race riders in American history. He was the first jockey to win the Derby on three occasions and consecutive runnings: Buchanan, 1884; Riley, 1890; and Kingman, 1891. He remains the only jockey to win the Derby, Oaks and Clark Handicap in the same year, 1884. Ike or the "Colored Archer" as he was dubbed in reference to the prominent English jockey of the time, Fred Archer, won 44 percent of all races he rode. Isaac Burns (Murphy) was born in 1860 on David Tanner's Pleasant Green Hill Farm in Fayette County, KY. His father enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War and died as a prisoner of war at Camp Nelson along the Kentucky River. His mother moved to Lexington where the family lived with her father Green Murphy. Upon becoming a jockey at 14, Isaac changed his last name to Murphy in honor his grandfather. Murphy, 35, died of pneumonia February 12, 1896.

James "Soup" Perkins won the 1895 Derby aboard Halma as a 15-year-old to join fellow African-American jockey Alonzo Clayton as the youngest winning riders of the event. Perkins, who received his nickname for his love of soup, began riding in 1891 at 11. He won his first race at Kentucky's Latonia racetrack that year. His brother, William Perkins, a prominent trainer of the time started six s in the Derby during his career. Soup died in August 1911 while attending the races at Hamilton, Ontario.

Willie Simms won in both of his Derby attempts, 1896 aboard Ben Brush and 1898 with Plaudit. Born January 16, 1870 in Augusta, GA, Sims is the only African-American rider to win each of the Triple Crown events. He won the Preakness in 1898 aboard Sly Fox and consecutive runnings of the Belmont with Commanche, 1893, and Henry of Navaree, 1894. He also was the nation's leading jockey in 1893 and 1894. Simms was the first American jockey to win a race with an American at an English race course and is credited with introducing the short stirrup riding style to England in the 1890's. He later trained s and died February 26, 1927 in Asbury, N.J. at 47.

William Walker won the 1877 Derby aboard Baden Baden for African-American trainer Ed Brown. A native of Woodford County, Ky., Walker was born into slavery in 1860 at General Abe Buford's Bosque Bonita Farm near Versailles. In 1871, as an 11-year-old, he began his riding career at Jerome Park and rode his first winner later that year in Lexington. By age 13, Walker had secured his first stakes victory. One of his greatest victories was aboard Ten Broeck in a famed four-mile match race at Churchill Downs, July 4, 1878, with the California-based mare Molly McCarthy. He was Churchill's leading rider on five occasions, fall 1875-76 and spring 1876-77-78. After retiring, he became a trainer and was considered an expert in Thoroughbred breeding and bloodlines and served in an advisory capacity to John E. Madden, breeder of five Kentucky Derby winners. Walker saw every Kentucky Derby, 59 straight, until his death on Sept. 20, 1933 while at his home. He is buried in Louisville Cemetery. During Derby Week 1996, Churchill Downs placed a headstone, detailing Walker's career, at the previously unmarked grave.

James Winkfield rode in four consecutive Kentucky Derbys: 1900 Thrive, 3rd; 1901 His Eminence, 1st; 1902 Alan-a-Dale, 1st; and 1903 Early, 2nd. Born April 12, 1882 in Chilesburg, KY, he began his career in 1898 with a one-year suspension for causing a four- spill in his first race. In 1901, his third full year of riding, Winkfield captured 161 races. He left the U.S. for Russia in 1903 where he rode for the Czar. During his career in Europe, he rode in Poland, Austria, Hungary, Spain France and England. He retired from riding at 48 and purchased a farm outside of Paris at Maisons-Lafitte. In 1943, during World War II, he escaped from the Germans. He later returned to his home in France where he died at 92 on March 23, 1974.

Marlon St. Julien became the first African-American jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby in 79 years, when he guided Godolphin Racing Inc.'s Curule to a seventh place finish in the 126th running of the classic race.

St. Julien, a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, worked on his uncle's farm as a youngster, but was more interested in playing football than in race riding. He turned his attention to becoming a jockey following his junior year in high school and began riding at Evangeline Downs in 1989, winning his first race aboard Sadie's Sensation two weeks into his career.

He was involved in a five- spill a short time later, suffering multiple injuries, including a broken sternum. He almost gave up riding at that point, but instead became more inspired, and following two months of recovery, he was back in the saddle.

Following his graduation from high school, he continued riding in Louisiana before temporarily moving his tack to California. He returned to Louisiana before venturing to Lone Star Park for their inaugural season in 1997, where he won the first race at the Texas track, with I Are Sharp in the Premier Stakes.

He is a regular rider on the Kentucky circuit and spends his winters at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana. He was a member of the ultra-tough riders colony at Saratoga last summer.

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