This Day in Black History: May 17, 1875

This Day in Black History: May 17, 1875

Oliver Lewis, an African-American jockey, wins the first Kentucky Derby on May 27, 1875.

Published May 17, 2013

Oliver Lewis, an African-American jockey, was one of 13 Black jockeys who competed in the first Kentucky Derby on May 17, 1875. He rode the horse Aristide, who won the race, making him the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby.

Aristide became Lewis' lucky horse later that season. He rode in second at the Belmont Stakes in New York and won three more races at the Louisville Jockey Club. Lewis retired from racing for unknown reasons after that season.

Oliver worked as a day laborer and then a bookie, which was legal in Kentucky at that time. During his life, Oliver married and had six children. 

He died in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1924. He was 68 years old.

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(Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

Written by Natelege Whaley

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