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John Herschel Barnhill

horse trainer and show rider, was born on the Bass Plantation near Columbia, Missouri, to Cornelia Grey, an African American slave, and William Hayden Bass, the white son of the plantation owner. He was reared by his maternal grandfather, Presley Grey. By the 1890s his prowess as a horse trainer was known throughout the world of saddle horses. His horses won championships and well over 2,000 blue ribbons. He met five presidents, and he rode in several inaugural parades.

Tom was riding at age 4 and jumping at age 6. While working at the town hotel as a bellhop and buggy driver, he trained rogue horses part time. In 1879 he began working for Joseph Potts in Mexico as a trainer Saddle horses were highly prized during this era and Potts and his partner sold only the top of the line Potts s Thornton Star was one of the ...


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 ...


Monica R. Saunders

jockey, was born the son of a slave woman sometime during the period shortly before the Emancipation Proclamation. There is little known today about the early years of Lewis, who grew up to become one of the most renowned African American jockeys in horse racing history. Using other accounts and histories from the period, however, speculation about how Lewis came to be such an adept horseman is possible.

After the Civil War sharecropping replaced slavery as a means for plantation owners to maintain control over their newly liberated charges Some of these sharecroppers were used as stable hands and exercise boys for the plantation owners racehorses The most proficient of these boys for most of them were barely fourteen or fifteen were chosen as jockeys a highly desirable position Even during slavery times the title of jockey allowed an African American many freedoms that were refused his fellows African ...


Pellom McDaniels

jockey. Isaac Murphy was born Isaac Burns within the converging contexts of slavery and the beginning of the American Civil War on David Tanner's Pleasant Green Hill Farm in Clark County, Kentucky. Murphy's mother, America, an enslaved domestic servant, and his father, Jerry Burns, an enslaved laborer who would later become a Union soldier and die of camp fever at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, left no record of an official marriage or narrative of their lives together. After Emancipation, Murphy's mother migrated with her son and daughter to the growing urban center of Lexington, Kentucky, where they began a new life as freedmen.

Murphy's adherence to Victorian definitions of morality, self-control, and integrity—endorsed by his mother and reinforced by his community—would shape his definition of manhood and masculinity, which would be the foundation of his future success as a jockey and as a man.

In 1874 Murphy s mother apprenticed ...


Robert Fikes

jockey, was born Isaac Burns on a farm near Frankfort, Kentucky, the son of James Burns, a bricklayer, and a mother (name unknown) who worked as a laundrywoman. During the Civil War, his father, a free black, joined the Union army and died in a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. Upon the death of his father, his widowed mother moved with her family to Lexington, Kentucky, to live with her father, Green Murphy, a bell ringer and auction crier. Accompanying his mother to work at the Richard and Owings Racing Stable, the diminutive Isaac was noticed by the black trainer Eli Jordan, who had him suited up for his first race at age fourteen. His first winning race was aboard the two-year-old filly Glentina on 15 September 1875 at the Lexington Crab Orchard Standing five feet tall and weighing only seventy four pounds Murphy had by the ...


Steven P. Savage

jockey and trainer, was born William Simms in Augusta, Georgia, the son of former slaves, whose names are unknown. Enticed by racing silks as a boy, he ran away from home to become a jockey. He worked for C. H. Pettingill's stable in New York for two years, until the trainer Con Leighton “discovered” him riding in Clifton, New Jersey, in 1887 or 1888.

For Simms's first important race, Leighton assigned him to ride the two-year-old Banquet, a 20-1 underdog, in the 1889 Expectation Stakes. Banquet defeated both the favorite, Bellisarius, ridden by Edward “Snapper” Garrison, and Banquet's preferred stablemate, Chaos. Later, at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, Simms guided Chaos, now a 30-1 underdog, to victory over favored Banquet. Freelancing in 1891 Simms enjoyed great success at Saratoga. In 1892P.-J. Dwyer hired Simms who won the Champion Stakes aboard Lamplighter After ...


Elizabeth Kuebler-Wolf

slave, jockey, and horse trainer, was born Charles Stewart, most likely in the first years of the nineteenth century, in Pocahontas, Virginia, the son of a free, mixed-race man named Charles Stewart, a sailor, and an enslaved woman, Sally Vaughan, who was owned by a man named Enoch Vaughan. Charley's parents were not married at the time of his birth. Enoch Vaughan died when Charley was a baby, and for several years he lived with the free members of his father's family, residing with his aunt Mary Stewart. When Charley was about twelve years old Enoch Vaughan's daughter Lizzie Pace sold him in order to pay her husband s gambling debts Stewart later recalled that his father was out of town when this sale occurred and thus did not have the opportunity to buy his son This was only the first of ...


Kelly M. Jordan

jockey and trainer, was born in Chilesburg, Kentucky, the youngest of seventeen children in a family of sharecroppers. He first worked at the racetrack shining shoes and made his way to stable hand, then exercise rider, and finally jockey. At the age of sixteen he was riding in races. Nicknamed “Wink,” he secured a place in racing history by age twenty-two for winning the Kentucky Derby back-to-back: in 1901 on His Eminence and in 1902 on Alan-A-Dale. During his career he won an amazing twenty-six hundred races. He also was a talented horse trainer in his later years.

In 1904 Winkfield fled the United States rumor had it that he had a falling out with a racehorse owner and raced in Russia There he continued his winning career taking the Russian and Moscow derbies more than once He scored victories in other races in Germany Russia and Poland ...