African-American Jockeys once championed the Kentucky Derby. Oliver Lewis was the first person to win the Kentucky Derby in 1875.  Alonzo Clayton was the youngest to win 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. 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. 


We created Harlem Derby to spotlight this important African American heritage. Our mission is to empower the next generation on young black equestrians, jockeys and trainers and provide opportunities for African American youth to rejoin the horse riding community and embrace the principals of horsemanship. We believe that educating youth on the legacy of Black Jockeys in the US & abroad has the power to inspire them to take ownership of their lives, dream big and work hard to be the best that they can be. We harness the historic achievements of Black Jockeys to promote reading, a commitment to life-long learning, and a greater sense of self-efficacy.


The Harlem Derby Cares, Isaac Burns Murphy Scholarship Award provides a fully funded scholarship opportunity to African-American youth from low-income households. The scholarship recipient will learn horsemanship and participate in recreational activities through summer equine training and immersion programming. The award is customized to suit the needs and abilities of the recipient and will provide a progressively tiered education in equitation, to include riding lessons, and an introduction to grooming, tacking, general care of horses, correct use and care of horse equipment, and stable safety. The awardee will receive a mandatory evaluation prior to entering the program and be placed in a group of peers palatable with their skill level. The student will be placed in hourly training lessons prior to full immersion into the program to ensure basic comfort level and safety. Only one Scholarship will be awarded to a student. Not all students who apply will receive the scholarship.


  • Must be between 6 – 17 years of age

  • Must be a full-time student

  • Maintains a GPA of 2.5 (or higher)

  • Must demonstrate financial need



  1. Art Work – Students should submit an original piece of artwork representing one of the Black Winners of the Kentucky Derby. The list of winners is provided below:

Year                        Jockey                      Horse  


1875                     Oliver Lewis               Aristides
1877              Willie ‘Billy’ Walker           Baden Baden
1880             George Garrett Lewis          Fonso
1882                       Babe Hurd               Apollo
1884            Isaac Burns Murphy             Buchanan
1885        Erskine ‘Babe’ Henderson         Joe Cotton
1887                      Isaac Lewis               Montrose
1890            Isaac Burns Murphy             Riley
1891             Isaac Burns Murphy            Kingman
1892                   Alonzo Clayton            Azra
1895            James ‘Soup’ Perkins            Halma
1896                    Willie Simms               Ben Brush
1898                    Willie Simms               Plaudit
1901                 Jimmy Winkfield             His Eminence
1902                Jimmy Winkfield              Alan-A-Dale


  2. Two paragraph essay – Scholarship applicants should submit a 500-word essay about the drawing explaining the artwork.


*Note only original artwork will be accepted.


How to apply:


To be considered for the scholarship, please print, complete, scan and email the application, essay and a picture of the artwork to no later than Monday, April 13, 2020.  Three finalists will be selected and those students will be required to submit the original artwork to the committee for final review on Monday, April 20, 2020.  The winner will be notified and the scholarship award will be presented at the Run for the Roses Gala during the Harlem Derby Music Festival on May 2, 2020.


Late and incomplete applications will not be considered.  Please follow the application instructions closely in completing your application.




Erica James

Harlem Derby

(973) 862-9127


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