The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Black Jockeys


Rising Star
BGOL Investor
Although African-American jockeys may be a rarity now, they dominated the winner’s circle in the race’s first three decades.

It didn't matter that the reason they dominated the sport was because many of them learned it as, or were taught by former slaves relegated to horse barns, stalls and pastures their entire lives. Under threat of violent punishment they were unable to leave those confines for any reason without permission. They ate, slept, literally lived right next to horses their entire existence being treated just like the animals they trained and cared for. Perhaps that gave them an advantage. With emancipation came the realization that in spite of being freed with no more than the rags on their backs they left with a well hidden and quite valuable asset, their knowledge of horses. As slaves they were forced to enrich their owners. However once freed the powers that be aligned to forbid these African Americans from capitalized on their knowledge. The same thing happened to black farmers and other tradesmen.