This Day in Black History: May 13, 1891

Isaac Burns Murphy became the first three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby.

Posted: 05/13/2013 08:00 AM EDT
Isaac Burns Murphy

(Photo: WikiCommons)

Isaac Burns Murphy was a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby. The Bluegrass State native also is the first jockey to achieve that distinction, which he did on May 13, 1891.

Born Isaac Burns on April 16, 1861, in Frankfort, Kentucky, Murphy was during his time considered the prince of jockeys. He began racing at age 14 as I. Burns. In 1876, he added Murphy to his name to honor the grandfather who helped raise him after his father died.

Murphy was the first jockey to be inducted in the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in 1956 and is just one of two African-Americans to receive the honor. He was at the time the nation's highest-paid jockey — earning nearly $20,000 annually when at his peak.

But Murphy also battled with alcoholism and weight gain and was suspended in 1895 for intoxication. He died of pneumonia in 1896.

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