Churchill Downs | Louisville, KY

Pike Barnes and Tenny

The accomplishments of African-American horsemen in the early years of the sport are often forgotten, but in the years between the Civil War and the turn of the century, they dominated the field. Blacks held key positions, from jockeys to trainers to racing stable owners. Overall, 15 of the first 28 Kentucky Derby winners were riden by black jockeys and 5 were trained by black trainers.

The early 1900’s witnessed a mass exodus of African Americans out of the sport largely due to segregation and Jim Crow laws. Today,  African-Americans still just make up a small fraction of the riding community, despite their illustrious history and accomplishments.

Notable African Americans in horse racing history include:

Oliver Lewis
 was the first winner of the inaugural ‘Run for the Roses’ on the winning horse, Aristides, on May 17, 1875. On that day, Lewis raced against a field of 15 competitors, only one of which was white.

Isaac Murphy
was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbies in 1884, 1890 and 1891.  Murphy won 628 of his 1,412 starts during his career, a 44% victory rate that has never duplicated by any American jockey since.

Jimmy Winkfield was the second back-to-back winning jockey of the Kentucky Derby. Winkfield raced in four consecutive derbies placing third, first, first and second respectively. Winkfield left the US for Russia, rode for the Czar of Russia and continued his riding in England, France, Spain, Poland, Austria and Hungary.

Ed Brown
trained 1877 Kentucky Derby winner Baden-Baden. One of the most successful trainers of championship horses in derby history.

Alonzo Clayton was the youngest Kentucky Derby winner at age 15 in 1892.

James Perkins
was one of the two youngest jockeys, along with Alonzo Clayton to win the Kentucky Derby. Perkins was 15 years old in 1895 when he won the Derby riding Halma.
Willie Simms
is the only African American jockey to win all three of the Triple Crown events. He is also the first American jockey to win at an English race course with an American horse and is also known for teaching the short stirrup style of riding to English racers. Simms won over 1,100 races during his 14 year career.

Marlon St. Julien in 2000 was the first African American jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby in 79 years.


Churchill Downs
700 Central Avenue, Louisville, KY 40208  USA
Phone: (502) 636-4451



Churchill Downs

For tickets visit To plan a group or corporate event, please contact Lauren Johnson at (502) 638-3896 or
Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs added a new photo.March 24th, 2015 at 2:13pm
With a high demand for tickets to this fall’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland, the next best place for horse racing fans to watch and wager will be Churchill Downs!

Find more info here:
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Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs added 4 new photos.March 20th, 2015 at 11:11pm
The Duchess of Cornwall visited #ChurchillDowns today to officially launch The Brooke USA.

The Brooke is an organization that works to relieve the suffering of horses, donkeys and mules working to improve the lives of some of the world's poorest people.

We were honored to have Her Royal Highness, The Brooke and many others as our guests today for this wonderful occasion.
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Churchill Downs shared Kentucky Derby's video.March 13th, 2015 at 8:38pm
50 days until the Kentucky Derby!
Kentucky Derby
50 days until all this...
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Churchill Downs shared Kentucky Derby's photo.March 5th, 2015 at 6:30pm
Days of sunshine, horse racing, and no more snow are near! Here's a warm photo to help get you through the latest snow storm.

We hope everyone is staying safe!
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Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs shared a link.March 5th, 2015 at 1:15pm
Simulcast wagering cancelled Thursday, March 5th.
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