How Race And The Kentucky Derby Collide Throughout History

How Race And The Kentucky Derby Collide Throughout History

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most exciting events in the world of sports and sports betting. For most fans and active followers of the art of horse racing, the Kentucky Derby has a rich history that’s rife with interesting trivia and stunning facts. Nevertheless, certain elements of the Kentucky Derby’s history have largely been forgotten in the modern era, and this is particularly true when it comes to social matters like racism and discrimination.

For a long time, racism, emancipation, discrimination, and admiration all collided together throughout history at the Kentucky Derby. Here’s an analysis of how race and social stigma have helped create the modern Kentucky Derby as we know it.

The first three-time Derby winner was born a slave

Consider the impressive life story of Isaac Burns Murphy. Murphy was born into slavery in January of 1861, according to a recent analysis of his life, though he would ultimately become one of the more admired racers of his era. Familiar with horses from an early age due to social discrimination at the time which dictated that African Americans would largely be given jobs related to animal husbandry, Murphy developed staggeringly impressive horse racing skills. He would eventually become the first rider to win the Kentucky Derby three times.

Murphy died at the young age of 35, but in his limited years on this Earth he became a recognized champion. Nevertheless, racism and bigotry followed him throughout his career, even as he earned millions and developed global fame. African American jockeys used to be incredibly common at the Kentucky Derby, but these days they haven’t won a Kentucky Derby in more than a century. It’s thus likely that the derby will take such things into consideration, though bettors seldom think about the racism and discrimination which can contribute to on-the-track outcomes.

According to one analysis, in the first Kentucky Derby there was only one White rider, Oliver Lewis, but these days White and Latinx riders make up the majority of contestants. While socio-economic discrimination once forced non-Whites into low-paying industries like animal husbandry, Black and other non-White individuals were effectively discriminated against in the industry once it became profitable and marketable at a massive level. This meant many immigration opportunities for jockeys around the world, helped by to settle in North America. The Kentucky Derby has a rich history of diversity, but discrimination and bigotry have also constantly hounded African American contestants. When eagerly awaiting the next photo-finish, try to remember the interesting ways that race and the Kentucky Derby have collided with one another across history.