BLACK JOCKEY PROJECT
African-American Jockeys once championed the Kentucky Derby. The first person to ever win the Kentucky Derby was an African-American male named Oliver Lewis in 1875.
The youngest person to win was Alonzo Clayton in 1892 at the age of 15. Isaac Burns Murphy still holds the world record for lifetime percentage winnings in Thoroughbred Racing history, with 628 wins out of 1,412 starts for 44%. His winnings include three Kentucky Derby wins, four American Derby wins, and five Latonia Derby wins. This record remains unmatched to date.
Black men continued to dominate the sport throughout the late 19th century until the constraints of Jim Crow permanently disbarred them from participation. James Winkfield was the last black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. He won two consecutive races, in 1901 and 1902.
Through a historical expose’ we are able to revisit the past and resurrect derby racing as an authentic African-American sport. We honor those southern athletes whose thoroughbred racing skills originated, and were developed in the West African Durbar. Their expertise and passion for the sport paved way and laid the very foundation for the celebrated Kentucky Derby race as we know it today.
IBM LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Harlem Derby was created to spotlight the successful history and impact of African Americans in thoroughbred racing. So every year at the "Run for the Roses Gala" on the first Saturday in May, we present the Isaac Burns Murphy (IBM) Lifetime Achievement Award to career African American Jockeys, owners and trainers with significant accomplishments in the thoroughbred racing sport.
Due in part to his historic contributions to research on the Black Jockeys of the Kentucky Derby, and his acclaimed biography of Isaac Burns Murphy, in the book titled "The Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy" (2013), this year we will present Emory University's Dr. Pellom McDaniels with this prestigious award.
On opening night of the Harlem Derby Music Festival, Dr. McDaniels will summarize his work in an intimate Author's Talk followed by a Book Signing and Q & A Session. In addition to his work as a professor, Dr. McDaniels is also an artist, curator, and former NFL linebacker.