Anthony Hamilton (Jockey)

Anthony HamiltonAnthony “The Black Demon” Hamilton was a natural in the irons. Born in Charleston, S.C., in 1866, Hamilton was a complete rider, possessing a rare balance of strength and finesse, and the innate ability of knowing when to be aggressive and when to be patient throughout the course of a race.

Hamilton’s first notable victory was in 1881 when he piloted Sligo to victory in the Phoenix Handicap. Throughout the next 15 years, Hamilton won many of the most prestigious races in America, including all three of the major New York handicaps — the Brooklyn (twice), Suburban, and Manhattan. Hamilton is the only black rider to win all three of New York’s major handicaps.

In 1890, Hamilton won the third edition of the Futurity with the champion Potomac. The race was the richest event to date on the American turf with a purse of $67,675. Hamilton enjoyed a remarkable year in 1890, leading all riders with a 31.2 win percentage. The following year, Hamilton increased his win percentage to a staggering 33.8 and had 154 victories, which ranked second in the national standings.

Hamilton’s success in the major American races of his era was phenomenal. His prominent victories included the 1887 American Derby, back-to-back editions of the Monmouth Oaks in 1889 and 1890, the inaugural Gazelle Handicap in 1887, as well as the 1890 Gazelle, the 1891 Lawrence Realization Stakes, the 1888 St. Louis Derby, the inaugural Toboggan Handicap in 1890, the Monmouth Handicap in 1889 and 1892, the 1886 Nursery Stakes, the 1892 Great Trial Stakes, and five runnings of the Twin City Handicap (1886, 1888, 1889, 1892, and 1894), among others.

Many of the top owners in the sport sought out the services of Hamilton. He rode in the colors of Pierre Lorillard, Billy Lakeland, Mike Dwyer, J.R. Keene, and the Belmont family. Hamilton’s most famous mounts included Hall of Famers Firenze and Salvator, and the retrospective champions Potomac and Lamplighter.

Following his outstanding career in America, Hamilton enjoyed considerable success riding overseas. He won the Metropolitan Stakes of Vienna and the Karoli Memorial in Budapest, as well as the Ruler Stakes, the first leg of the Polish Triple Crown. Hamilton briefly rode in Russia during 1904, but his career came to an end there when he was thrown from a horse.

Hamilton then moved to France, where he died in 1907. Racing historian Fred Burlew, the son of a Hall of Fame trainer, ranked Hamilton third on his list of the 10 greatest African-American jockeys of all time behind only Hall of Famers Isaac Murphy and Willie Simms.



Great Black Jockeys

BOSTON (BASN) — Most famous of the black jockeys by far is Isaac Murphy who is considered one of the greatest riders in American history. He was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbys and won an astonishing 44% of all races he rode.

Isaac-Murphy-jockey-7That record has not been approached by any other jockey since. He was the first jockey to be inducted into the Jockey Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Racing.

Sadly, his career was cut short at the age of 34 when he died of pneumonia.

He always had trouble staying at the light weight demanded of a jockey and was known to binge and purge. It has been speculated that it was vomit backing up in his lungs that caused the pneumonia which led to his death.

He is buried next to Man O’ War in the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Willie-Simms-jockey-8Willie Simms was a superb rider of the late 19th century. He brought winning mounts to the wire 24.8% of the time.Simms was born in 1870 in Augusta, Ga., and began riding at East Coast tracks in 1887.

During his career he rode for the most prominent owners of the era, including Mike and Phil Dwyer, Richard Croker, Pierre Lorillard, August Belmont, and James R. Keene.  Simms won back-to-back Belmont Stakes in 1893-94 aboard Commanche and Henry of Navarre.

He also was a two-time winner of the Kentucky Derby aboard Ben Brush and Plaudit and was the only African-American jockey to win the Preakness, aboard Sly Fox in 1898.

One of Simms’ most dramatic races was a match between Dobbin and Domino in 1893. Simms and Dobbin finished in a dead heat with the previously unbeaten Domino.

Simms found great success riding the New York circuit in the 1890′s. He also briefly rode in England in 1895. Many sources credit Simms with introducing the British to the short stirrup style of riding later popularized by Tod Sloan.

Willie Simms was the nation’s leading jockey in 1894. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1977.


Kevin Krigger (Jockey)

Krigger: Preakness Dreams and Racing History

GoldencentsKevinKriggerPimlico05082013JM298Kevin Krigger has never won a Triple Crown race, but he admits it’s been on his bucket list since arriving in the U.S. from his native St. Croix more than a decade ago.

On May 18, 2014 he could become the first African-American jockey to win the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) since Willie Simms’ victory in 1898. The only other African-American to ride to victory in the Preakness was George “Spider” Anderson, who did so in 1889.

“Basically that’s just part of the history,” said the soft-spoken Krigger, who will be the first African-American jockey to ride in the Preakness since Wayne Barnett finished eighth aboard Sparrowvon in 1985. “The media actually is paying more attention to it than I am because I really don’t have time to worry about that. I’m focused here on getting Goldencents   in the Preakness winner’s circle.”

Krigger could have been back home riding at Betfair Hollywood Park, but trainer Doug O’Neill asked him to stay with the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner and be aboard for all of his subsequent training for the Preakness.

Goldencents finished 17th as the third betting choice in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), which was contested over a sloppy, sealed track at Churchill Downs.

“It was one of those races where…we just had to go back to the drawing board,” said Krigger, who has been aboard for all seven of Goldencents’ races. “We didn’t get the outcome we were looking for, but the greatest thing is the horse came back healthy and we’re here getting ready for the Preakness.”

Krigger said he eased up on the son of Into Mischief   once he realized he was out of contention in the Derby, so he hasn’t lost any confidence in him. O’Neill admitted he was impressed by the fact that Krigger did the right thing by his colt.

“Kevin’s such a positive guy and such a positive rider,” O’Neill said May 14 after Krigger took Goldencents out for his regular morning gallop around Pimlico Race Course. “He’s been great with the horse, and we’re pretty lucky to have a guy to make that kind of commitment. It just shows how dedicated he is and how passionate he is. He’s a real team player.”

Krigger said it wasn’t a difficult decision to make the commitment to Goldencents.

“I have a lot of faith in him,” Krigger said. “I’ve been on this horse every time, and these guys stuck with me. They kept me on this horse this far, and I would have felt bad if I was in California after they asked me to stay here… As easily as I could have ridden other horses back there, they could have had someone else on him. I’m on him because they have faith in my riding ability and we get along—not just me and the horse, but me and the entire team. They’re great to work with.”

Meanwhile, Krigger has become something of a local hero in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where his family still lives.

“I found out about two days before the Derby that I had a Facebook page,” said the 29-year-old Preakness rookie. “I guess it was put together by my sister and my cousin, and my mother informed me that the Virgin Islands media are trying to get hold of me to do interviews. She also informed me that a lot of kids are leaving comments as far as I inspired them to follow their dreams. I don’t really keep up with social media, but that made me appreciate [it].”

Only two of the past eight Derby winners have also captured the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown: Big Brown   in 2008 and the O’Neill-trained I’ll Have Another   last year. (I’ll Have Another never got his Triple Crown chance when he came up injured the day before the Belmont Stakes).

“I feel we have a good chance to win again; if we get a good trip, I think we can,” said O’Neill, who also paid his respects to Derby winner Orb  . “Shug’s (McGaughey) a Hall of Fame trainer. (Orb) is a Triple Crown threat for sure.”


George B. Anderson (Jockey)

George “Spider” Anderson: First Black Jockey to Win the Preakness

george AndersonGeorge B. “Spider” Anderson is considered one of the greatest African American jockeys in horse racing history.  There are no details available on George Anderson’s early life, not even the place or date of his birth.

Anderson achieved his greatest accomplishment by being the first African American jockey to win the Preakness Stakes held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Preakness Stakes is the 2nd stage of the Triple Crown series, between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes in New York.

On May 10, 1889, the day of the race, Anderson struck one of his coaches, James Cook, across the head with a whip.  The reason for this altercation between the two remains unknown.  There is however speculation that because the 1889 Preakness Stakes only consisted of two horses; Buddhist, rode by Anderson, and Japhet, owned by former Maryland Governor Oden Bowie, there was tension between Cook, who was a friend of Governor Bowie, and Anderson.  There may have been words exchanged before the race which led to Anderson’s attack.  Despite the altercation, Anderson was allowed to participate in the Preakness Stakes before receiving any punishment for his assault on Cook by authorities.

Anderson won the race riding Buddhist and easily beating Japhet.  Anderson finished the race with an astonishing time of 2:17.50 and became the 17th winner of the Preakness Stakes.

In 1891, Anderson had two other significant victories to his career, the Alabama Stakes at the Saratoga Race Course in Upstate New York and the Philip H. Iselin Handicap at the Monmouth Race Course in New Jersey.


Edward Hotaling, The Great Black Jockeys: The Lives and Times of the Men Who Dominated America’s First National Sport (Rocklin, California: Forum, 1999);… Glenn C., Smith, “George “Spider” Anderson: First Black Jockey to Win the Preakness.” Los Angeles Sentinel. 2000. HighBeam Research.,

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ANNAPOLIS – In 1889, George “Spider” Anderson became the first black jockey to win the Preakness. In those days black jockeys were not uncommon.

In fact, the first Kentucky Derby in 1875 was run with a field of mostly black riders, one of whom, Oliver Lewis, won the race.

Not much is known about Anderson, said Dr. Kenneth Cohen, a professor of early American history at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Unlike Jimmy Winkfield, who is the first jockey to win consecutive Kentucky Derbies (1901, 1902) and has a race named in his honor (The Jimmy Winkfield Stakes on Long Island, N.Y.), Cohen said there is no historical trace of Anderson after 1891.

Anderson’s fate, Cohen said, is not uncommon for black riders of the era, calling his career, “short and illustrious.”

“Anderson’s Preakness win was historic,” Cohen said, “but needs to be placed in context.”

Anderson’s horse, Buddhist, owned by Samuel S. Brown, originally had no opponent. If that occurs the jockey merely trots his horse around the track to secure victory. Cohen said former Gov. Oden Bowie entered his own horse, Japhet, just so advertisers of the race would not have been upset by the lack of competition.

Anderson won comfortably by 10 lengths.

Before the Preakness, Anderson’s gradual rise can be historically charted in newspapers of the time, said Cohen. For example, Anderson was listed in Baltimore and D.C. races in 1884, though he lost in both.

Even if Anderson’s rise was gradual, from a historical perspective, his disappearance was abrupt.

With licenses in New York and New Orleans, Cohen said Anderson continued to win after the Preakness, including at the Alabama Stakes in Saratoga, NY, in 1891. But after that year, Cohen said, Anderson is not heard from again.

Cohen said as important as Anderson’s Preakness win is, how he was erased from the sport’s history is also significant.

His disappearance in record is peculiar because he was repeatedly mentioned in race results at a time in the 19th century when the focus was typically on the owner, which Cohen suggests makes it strange for Anderson to disappear without mention.

Though he admits it is conjecture, Cohen explained the significance of the inability to historically track Anderson after 1891.

“It’s hard to imagine a white jockey similarly disappearing,” Cohen said.

Jim Crow laws most likely aided the end of Anderson’s career, Cohen said, as they did most other black jockeys.

Tennis great Arthur Ashe once wrote in the New York Times that once the Jockey Club was formed in the early 1890’s and controlled the issuance and regulation of jockey licenses, blacks were denied theirs.

“By 1911,” Ashe wrote, “they had all but disappeared.”


BOOK: Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack

Race Horse Men recaptures the vivid sights, sensations, and illusions of nineteenth-century thoroughbred racing, America’s first mass spectator sport. Inviting readers into the pageantry of the racetrack, Katherine C. Mooney conveys the sport’s inherent drama while also revealing the significant intersections between horse racing and another quintessential institution of the antebellum South: slavery.

A popular pastime across American society, horse racing was most closely identified with an elite class of southern owners who bred horses and bet large sums of money on these spirited animals. The central characters in this story are not privileged whites, however, but the black jockeys, grooms, and horse trainers who sometimes called themselves race horse men and who made the racetrack run. Mooney describes a world of patriarchal privilege and social prestige where blacks as well as whites could achieve status and recognition and where favored slaves endured an unusual form of bondage. For wealthy white men, the racetrack illustrated their cherished visions of a harmonious, modern society based on human slavery.

After emancipation, a number of black horsemen went on to become sports celebrities, their success a potential threat to white supremacy and a source of pride for African Americans. The rise of Jim Crow in the early twentieth century drove many horsemen from their jobs, with devastating consequences for them and their families. Mooney illuminates the role these too-often-forgotten men played in Americans’ continuing struggle to define the meaning of freedom.

Source: Amazon


Writing with exceptional polish and élan, Katherine Mooney succeeds brilliantly at restoring humanity to black jockeys and trainers. This superb book says as much about the cruelties and distortions wrought by racism in nineteenth-century America as any single book can. (W. Fitzhugh Brundage, author of The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory)

Katherine Mooney leads us inside the paddock and beyond the finish line to reveal how horse racing shaped American society and molded race relations. In doing so, she brings to life the struggles of numerous individuals long lost to history. The result is an eye-opening and important book. (Louis P. Masur, author of Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union)

Katherine Mooney gives us a vivid, pioneering study of the horse-racing world, a mainstay of nineteenth-century American and Southern culture. Her portrayal of the lives of black jockeys is a revelation. She uses sporting drama to illuminate the interplay between callousness and selective personal affection that pervaded white attitudes toward blacks. (Melvin Patrick Ely, author of Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War)

Black men were active in 19th-century racing, most prominent in the South, as jockeys, grooms, and trainers for this first large spectator sport in the United States…But Mooney shows how white resentment of black presence and success at the race track increased. Whites feared that the example of success that these race-horse men set would incite other blacks to demand more rights and become violent. With the rise of Jim Crow in the South, blacks were driven out of the sport. (Patsy Gray Library Journal 2014-03-15)

Mooney’s book draws on the stories and memoirs of a range of figures across racing, as the sport became simultaneously a Southern specialty and an object of popular fascination. Race Horse Men is stitched out of these portraits, many of which are wonderfully effective in revealing just how ambiguous, for example, the situation of enslaved grooms, trainers, jockeys, and breeding-shed managers could be…Mooney’s book is at its strongest when it peers not into the clubhouse but out into the stables…She positions her history to thread together a large chunk of time, when racing carried the burden of chattel slavery and civil war. (Eric Banks Chronicle of Higher Education 2014-05-05)

Katherine Mooney’s enthralling account of an all-but-forgotten population of elite slaves in the American South reads like a novel. Race Horse Men is both the story of 19th century thoroughbred racing–‘America’s first mass-audience sport’–and a detailed portrait of the expert equestrian slaves and free black horsemen upon whose competence in the stables wealthy white ‘turfmen’ depended…Mooney makes a strong case for why these forgotten histories continue to illuminate systems of inequality to this day. (Thomas Chatterton Williams San Francisco Chronicle 2014-05-30)

It is that history–of rich white men, enslaved black men, and the birth of American horse racing–that Katherine C. Mooney tells in Race Horse Men. Scholarly yet accessible, the book argues that far from subverting the racist notions of the slave-holding South, black horsemen were seen as ‘the perfect slaves, precisely calibrated extensions of a master’s will’ and ‘central figures in turfmen’s vision of the harmony of a slave society.’ (Kate Tuttle Boston Globe 2014-06-01)

About the Author

Katherine C. Mooney is Assistant Professor of History at Florida State University.

Source: Amazon

First African-American Steward: DeShawn Parker (Jockey)

deshawn-parker10Deshawn Parker is the most successful black horse jockey in today’s modern derbies with over 4,000 victories. In a sport that is now dominated by Latinos, Parker is the 54th highest-ranking jockey in racing history.

After sitting under the horse track rails playing in the dirt and watching his father exercise horses, DeShawn Parker, 4 or 5 years old at the time, would stand beside a towering horse. His father, Daryl, would yell, “Rescue!” then lean over, scoop up the young boy and plop him onto the horse.

DeShawn Parker went from jumping into his father’s arms at the Latonia, Ky., track to mounting horses, exercising them and finally compiling the most wins for an African-American jockey in the history of horse racing.

His father didn’t expect his son to make horse-racing history.

“I always took DeShawn to the race track with me,” Daryl Parker, 59, said from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio. “That was his treat. If he was good, he could go hang out with me at the track. He’s accomplished a lot more than I ever imagined. I thought he might make a nice living exercising horses and go on to play baseball. But his love for riding took over and he could not wait to get back to horses.”

Daryl Parker has his own page in horse racing’s history. In 1986, he was named the sport’s first African-American steward. Stewards enforce the rules at racetracks and review alleged violations. When he became a steward, he made an agreement with his son, who was 16 at the time: Promise to graduate from high school and you can try your hand at being a jockey.

Deshawn Parker is the most successful black horse jockey in today’s modern derbies with over 4,000 victories. In a sport that is now dominated by Latinos, Parker is the 54th highest-ranking jockey in racing history. Today, only 30 of the approximate 750 members of the national Jockey’s Guild are African American. According to recent stats, 42-year-old Parker has estimated earnings of over $47 million dollars. In 2010, Deshawn Parker became the first black jockey to win the most North American races since James “Soup” Perkins in 1895. Parker credits his success to the pioneering black jockeys of history like Isaac Murphy, who was the first black sports millionaire in 1884.

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The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys

African American jockeys once dominated the track. But by 1921, they had disappeared from the Kentucky Derby and would not return for nearly eighty years

James Winkfield on Alan a Dale

James Winkfield was a two-time Kentucky Derby winner and raced across Europe after racism kept him from being the best athlete in America’s most popular sport. (Courtesy Kentucky Derby Museum / Kinetic Corporation)

When tens of thousands of fans assemble in Louisville, Kentucky, May 2 for the 135th Kentucky Derby, they will witness a phenomenon somewhat unusual for today’s American sporting events: of some 20 riders, none are African American. Yet in the first Kentucky Derby in 1875, 13 out of 15 jockeys were black. Among the first 28 derby winners, 15 were black. African American jockeys excelled in the sport in the late 1800s. But by 1921, they had disappeared from the Kentucky track and would not return until Marlon St. Julien rode in the 2000 race.

African American jockeys’ dominance in the world of racing is a history nearly forgotten today. Their participation dates back to colonial times, when the British brought their love of horseracing to the New World. Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson frequented the track, and when President Andrew Jackson moved into the White House in 1829, he brought along his best Thoroughbreds and his black jockeys. Because racing was tremendously popular in the South, it is not surprising that the first black jockeys were slaves. They cleaned the stables and handled the grooming and training of some of the country’s most valuable horseflesh. From such responsibility, slaves developed the abilities needed to calm and connect with Thoroughbreds, skills demanded of successful jockeys.

For blacks, racing provided a false sense of freedom. They were allowed to travel the racing circuit, and some even managed their owners’ racing operation. They competed alongside whites. When black riders were cheered to the finish line, the only colors that mattered were the colors of their silk jackets, representing their stables. Horseracing was entertaining for white owners and slaves alike and one of the few ways for slaves to achieve status.

After the Civil War, which had devastated racing in the South, emancipated African American jockeys followed the money to tracks in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “African Americans had been involved in racing and with horses since the beginning,” says Anne Butler, director of Kentucky State University’s Center for the Study of Kentucky African Americans. “By the time freedom came they were still rooted in the sport.”

The freed riders soon took center stage at the newly organized Kentucky Derby. On opening day, May 17, 1875, Oliver Lewis, a 19-year-old black native Kentuckian, rode Aristides, a chestnut colt trained by a former slave, to a record-setting victory. Two years later William Walker, 17, claimed the race. Isaac Murphy became the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbys, in 1884, 1890, and 1891, and won an amazing 44 percent of all the races he rode, a record still unmatched. Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton, at 15 the youngest to win in 1892, was followed by James “Soup” Perkins, who began racing at age 11 and claimed the 1895 Derby. Willie Simms won in 1896 and 1898. Jimmy “Wink” Winkfield, victorious in 1901 and 1902, would be the last African American to win the world-famous race. Murphy, Simms and Winkfield have been inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York.

In 2005, Winkfield was also honored with a Congressional House Resolution, a few days before the 131st Derby. Such accolades came long after his death in 1974 at age 91 and decades after racism forced him and other black jockeys off American racetracks.

Despite Wink’s winning more than 160 races in 1901, Goodwin’s Annual Official Guide to the Turf omitted his name. The rising scourge of segregation began seeping into horse racing in the late 1890s. Fanned by the Supreme Court’s 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine, Jim Crow injustice pervaded every social arena, says Butler.

“White genteel class, remnants from that world, didn’t want to share the bleachers with African American spectators, though blacks continued to work as groomers and trainers,” she says.

  • By Lisa K. Winkler
  •, April 24, 2009

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