- Dale Edwyna Smith
African Americans dominated the sport of Thoroughbred horseracing as trainers and jockeys in the sport's formative years. Prior to the American Revolution, horseracing most often involved two horses racing on quarter-mile paths; after the Revolution, as many as twenty horses might race on tracks of up to twenty miles. Slaves competed in colonial competitions, and Austin Curtis was freed after the Revolution for service to his country, including keeping American horses out of the hands of the British cavalry.
Most of the African Americans in the early years of horseracing were slaves some of them possessed equestrian skills from West African horse tribes but they led extraordinary lives as professional athletes and competed with white counterparts as early as the colonial era for rewards that included cash payments Although black slaves were offered as bets between gentlemen racehorse owners winning slave jockeys were permitted to travel across state lines which ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.