The last African-American jockey to win the Derby

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by Doug Proffitt

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Updated Thursday, May 2 at 8:42 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky -- Kevin Krigger on board Goldencents may become the first African American to win the Derby since 1902.  So who won it in 1902?

Jimmy Winkfield grew up outside Lexington. He raced at Keeneland and all over Kentucky.
At under 5 feet tall and weighing 115 pounds he won back to back derbies; 1901 on his Eminence and 1902 aboard Alan-a-Dale.

Krigger is one of only four jockeys in Derby history to win two in a row.

“Wink,” as he was known, won a $1,000 bonus for that second derby victory. 

The top jockeys at the time were all black; Willie Simms, Isaac Murphy, and Winkfield.

As a result, the big purse money and racism started taking over.  Black jockeys were squeezed out by white jockeys believing they deserved the best horses and the top cash. With threats from the KKK, Winkfield headed to France.   He became a wealthy owner of a racing stable.  He was famous, rubbing elbows with Bing Crosby.

In 1961 Wink returned to Louisville to be honored by sports illustrated at the Brown Hotel.  A doorman refused to let him in.

He would return to France where he died in 1974, at the age of 91, more than a month before the 100th running of the Kentucky Derby.  He was called the “Black Maestro”: the last African American to win the Kentucky Derby.
 

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