Kentucky Derby once dominated by African-Americans!

Isaac Burns Murphy (April 16, 1861 - February 12, 1896)Isaac Burns Murphy (April 16, 1861 – February 12, 1896)is considered one of the greatest race riders in American history. He was the first jockey to win the Derby on three occasions and consecutive runnings: Buchanan, 1884; Riley, 1890; and Kingman, 1891. “Kingman” was owned and trained by Dudley Allen and is the only horse owned by an African-American to win the Derby. Murphy remains the only jockey to win the Derby, Oaks and Clark Handicap in the same year, 1884. Ike or the “Colored Archer” as he was dubbed in reference to the prominent English jockey of the time, Fred Archer. Isaac Burns (Murphy) was born in 1860 on David Tanner’s Pleasant Green Hill Farm in Fayette County, KY. His father enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War and died as a prisoner of war at Camp Nelson along the Kentucky River. His mother moved to Lexington where the family lived with her father Green Murphy. Upon becoming a jockey at 14, Isaac changed his last name to Murphy in honor his grandfather. Isaac Burns Murphy’s career inspired a long list of firsts. The son of a former slave, Murphy rose to prominence in a field that was dominatedby African American jockeys at the time. Born in 1861 in Fayette County, Kentucky, he first worked as an exercise boy at Lexington stables, and acquired his first race mount in 1875 at the age of 14 as a replacement rider. Murphy won the race and launched his career. Murphy ultimately rode 628 champions, winning 44 percent of his races (no other rider since has come close). Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Arcaro said: “There is no chance that his record of winning will ever be surpassed”. Murphy was the first rider voted into the Jockey Hall of Fame and the first to win successive Derby crowns (1890 and 1891). This distinction went unmatched until another outstanding black rider, Jimmy Winkfield, won the coveted “Run for the Roses” in 1901 and 1902. Murphy was known for his skill, his honesty and his loyalty. He once refused to let champion Falsetto lose the 1879 Kenner Stakes, even though gamblers enticed him with bribes. Isaac Murphy also owned and trained horses during his career. He retired in 1892 to become a horse trainer. Murphy died of pneumonia in 1896 at age 36. He was belatedly inducted into the Jockey’s Hall of Fame at Saratoga in 1955. His body was re-interred at the Kentucky Horse Park in Fayette County in 1977. Isaac Burns Murphy was the fhe first jockey to be inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Since 1995 the National Turf Writers Association has given the Isaac Murphy Award to the jockey with the highest winning percentage for a given year in North American racing, from a minimum of 500 mounts.


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