Kendrick Carmouche Will Be First Black Jockey to Compete at Kentucky Derby Since 2013

Jason Duaine Hahn
·2 min read

Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis

This year's Kentucky Derby is bound to be a memorable one.

On Saturday, Derby fans will be allowed back at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. They'll also be on hand to watch the first Black jockey to race in the event since Kevin Krigger in 2013.

"As a Black rider getting to the Kentucky Derby, I hope it inspires a lot of people because my road wasn't easy to get there and I never quit," jockey Kendrick Carmouche told the Associated Press. "What I've been wanting all my career is to inspire people and make people know that it's not about color."

"It's about how successful you are in life and how far you can fight to get to that point," he added.

Carmouche is one of only a handful of Black jockeys in the country today, the outlet reported. He'll be riding Bourbonic, a Brown Colt trained by Todd A. Pletcher, and will start from the 20th post in the race.

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Carmouche is the son of Sylvester Carmouche, a jockey who won nearly 700 races over his career, the New York Times reported.

"Look, I'm 37 years old and I've covered a lot of pavement, put in a lot of hard work and stayed positive through hard times," Carmouche told the newspaper. "I learned all that from my Pops."

As the Times notes, Black jockeys used to be the stars of the Kentucky Derby more than a century ago.

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A Black jockey, Oliver Lewis, won the first-ever iteration of the event, and between 1875 and 1902, 15 editions of the Derby were won by a Black jockey.

Yet, Jimmy Winkfield's win in 1902 was the last time a Black jockey has won the storied event.

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While horses such as Essential Quality and Rock Your World are currently listed as favorites to win the Derby this year, Carmouche has his sights on making history.

"From my perspective, if I win this race, man, it would touch a lot of people," Carmouche told the AP.

"A lot of people will be crying," he continued, "a lot of people will be happy and a lot of happy tears."

Find out how to watch this weekend's Kentucky Derby here.