Tag Archives: Derby

African Americans and the Kentucky Derby: A Long and Storied History

African American Jockeys Kentucky Derby

Jimmy Winkfield rides Alan-a-Dale in the Kentucky Derby in 1902.

“Today will be historic in Kentucky annals as the first ‘Derby Day’ of what promises to be a long series of annual turf festivities of which we confidently expect our grandchildren, a hundred years hence, to celebrate in glorious rejoicings.”—Louisville Courier-Journal, May 17, 1875

As we look forward to the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby, we are reminded that it is impossible to talk about the “greatest two minutes in sports” without also talking about African American history. The two are inextricably tied. Of the fifteen riders at the first Kentucky Derby in 1875, thirteen were black, including the winning jockey, Oliver Lewis. Lewis rode Aristides to victory with the help of trainer Ansel Williamson, a former slave.

In the early days of American horse racing, many of the jockeys were slaves, who, after emancipation, continued working as trainers and riders for their former owners. Black jockeys won half of the first sixteen Derbies, and fifteen of the first twenty-eight, and most of the trainers were African American as well.

Baden Baden horse Edward D. Brown

Baden Baden was trained by Edward D. Brown, and ridden to victory by Billy Walker in the 1877 Kentucky Derby.

There was plenty of fame and fortune to be found for successful trainers and riders. At the third Kentucky Derby in 1877, the rider-trainer duo of Billy Walker and Ed “Brown Dick” Brown, guided Baden-Baden to a win. Ed Brown was one of the most successful trainers in the country and famous for his expensive suits and large bankrolls. Brown’s career in racing spanned more than 30 years as a jockey (who won the Belmont Stakes in 1870), a trainer, and as an owner. His horse, Monrovia, won the Kentucky Oaks in 1893. His filly, Etta, won in 1900. He was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 1984.

Some of the best-known names of the era were the jockeys. Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton still holds the record as the youngest-ever Kentucky Derby winner. At the age of 15, he won the 1892 Derby astride Azra. Isaac Burns Murphy was very well respected by his fellow jockeys, trainers, owners, breeders, and fans across the country. He was the first jockey to win back-to-back Kentucky Derbies. James “Jimmy” Winkfield almost eclipsed Murphy’s record in 1903, when he placed second in what would have been his third Kentucky Derby win in a row.

Unfortunately, Jimmy Winkfield was also the last African American to win the Kentucky Derby. Since 1911, when Jess Conley finished third, only three other black jockeys have ridden horses in the Derby. As James C. Nicholson writes in The Kentucky Derby:

“In fact, black riders were forced out of the sport by jealous white jockeys and bigoted owners and trainers in an increasingly racially biased American society whose court system had given official sanction to various Jim Crow laws by the end of the nineteenth century. As the Derby became increasingly popular on a national scale in the twentieth century, blacks still played indispensable roles in the lives of racehorses and the sport of horse racing. But grooms, hot-walkers, and stable hands operated far from the spotlight that would shine ever brighter on top athletes, including jockeys.”

This Saturday, as the riders take their mounts and as we celebrate the horse-trainer-jockey team who take their victory lap around the winners circle, take a moment to remember history and the men who should never be forgotten.

More Resources:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This post originally appeared on our blog on April 26, 2015.

The Perfect Kentucky Derby Party

Plan Perfect Derby Party

Like the big race itself, Kentucky Derby parties never go out of style. This post was originally published on our blog on May 2, 2015:

Of the many traditions that go hand-in-hand with the Kentucky Derby—the hat, the silks, the roses, the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home”—hosting a Derby party can be the most fun, especially for those who can’t make it to Churchill Down; but it can also be the most stressful. If you’re looking to throw the perfect Derby party, look no further than the recipes, decor, and ideas below. If you’re looking for something printable, download a PDF here: Plan the perfect KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY.

The Space:

tissue paper roses DIYRoses, roses everywhere! Run to the florist, or fake it up with red tissue paper to celebrate the Run for the Roses. Plus, its easy to coordinate with red plates and dinnerware. Set up a photo station with your own blanket of roses covering a blank stretch of wall. It only takes three things: thin wire, a cheap shower curtain, and plenty of red tissue paper. Here’s a great how-to from Brit and Co.

Fun & Festive:

It’s not a party without party games! Here are a few of our favorites to keep the good times going until the call to the post:

  • Bring the Derby to the Derby party! Place the names of the horses (or the numbers 1 -20) on folded slips of paper into a hat (bonus points for using a derby hat!) Guests can draw the number of the horse they’re rooting for in the big race. Make sure to have a fantastic prize for the winner, maybe an extra Race-Day Pie to take home?
  • The weather is (almost) always beautiful the first weekend in May. Horseshoes and/or Corn Hole move the party outdoors into the yard, putting Derby hats to good use under the sun.
  • Speaking of Derby hats, why not have a contest to see who has the best Derby hat? The men are invited too!
  • And lastly, an idea from KentuckyDerby.com: Ice Cube Jockey Races. Freeze small jockeys (or any differently colored or shaped tokens) to the tops of ice cubes. At the start of the race all participants can wager on a horse. Take a flat, smooth surface (glass from a large picture frame, an over-the-door bathroom mirror, etc.) and lay it across a table at an angle. Line the ice cube jockeys up, keeping them in place with a yard stick and then let them loose all at once for a fun and crazy race. To repeat simply refreeze the jockeys on new ice cubes and freeze until the down time between the next races.

The Drinks:

C’mon, this one’s obvious: mint juleps all around! Easy to prep and easy to serve, you really can’t go wrong with the most traditional of traditions; it’s a classic for a reason. Perfect MINT JULEP For the younger partiers, the designated drivers, and those who might not be bourbon fans (it’s OK, we forgive them), you can’t go wrong with a non-alcoholic sparkler. You can even reuse your mint-infused simple syrup for extra flavor. Derby Sparkler Drink

The Food:

Origin stories differ greatly, but burgoo has definitely evolved into a delicious “catch-all” stew. Basically, you can’t go wrong throwing everything you’ve “caught” into a giant pot and letting it simmer until ready. But if you’re looking for a specific recipe, The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook by nutritionist Maggie Green, has great ingredients and an easy, one-pot method.

Kentucky Fresh Burgoo

For small-bites, try Maggie Green’s steamed asparagus or green beans with toasted sesame mayonnaise:

Trim the asparagus and/or green beans and steam until bright green and tender (but still a little crisp). To make the toasted sesame mayonnaise dipping sauce, whisk 1 cup mayonnaise, juice of 1/2 lemon, 3 tablespoons dark sesame seed oil, 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve on the side as a dipping sauce, or thin with a bit more lemon juice and drizzle it over the veggies.

Sweet Treats:

Race-Day Pie, Saturday-in-May Pie, Bluegrass Pie…whatever you call it, the trademarked treat with bourbon, chocolate, and pecans in a pie crust is a must-have on the first Saturday of May.

In Bourbon Desserts, Lynn Marie Hulsman offers up the recipe for her Grandma Rose’s Big Race Pie. If you want to go really Kentucky, snag your flour from Weisenberger Mill, your pecans from Hickman, Kentucky, and your chocolate from Ruth Hunt Candies (or your favorite, local chocolatier).

Bourbon Desserts Derby Pie

At Long Last, A Triple Crown Winner

Sir Barton, the first horse to capture the American Triple Crown, with jockey Earl Sande. (Cook Collection, Keeneland Library, Lexington, Kentucky.)

Sir Barton, the first horse to capture the American Triple Crown, with jockey Earl Sande. (Cook Collection, Keeneland Library, Lexington, Kentucky.)

In the weeks between American Pharoah’s 2015 Kentucky Derby win and his dominant victory in the sloppy Preakness, and then during the lead-up to the Belmont Stakes, the hope in the hearts of many was similar: that this impressive three-year-old would finally break the thirty-seven year drought between Triple Crown champions. And on Saturday, American Pharoah did just that in spectacular fashion.

For those less directly connected to the Thoroughbred industry than those of us here in Kentucky, the world of horse racing can perhaps feel removed—a legacy sport of the landed gentry. Yet, in The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event, author James C. Nicholson describes how three special races have come to transcend the sport itself and define the pinnacle achievement of Thoroughbred racing.

At the heart of the series, of course, is the Kentucky Derby, followed by the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Since 1920, the Triple Crown has become the yardstick by which outstanding three-year-old Thoroughbreds are measured.

In the realm of sport, the term Triple Crown had first been used to describe three English horse races: the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby, and the St. Leger Stakes. American racetracks had attempted to establish racing series along the English model, but none achieved lasting national recognition. By 1930 the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, the Kentucky Derby, and the Belmont Stakes in New York had clearly risen above all other American races for three-year-olds. That year Gallant Fox captured all three events and was referred to by the New York Times as a “Triple Crown Hero.” Five years later, Gallant Fox’s son Omaha matched his father’s feat (and the pair remains the only father-son combo to win the American Triple Crown). Once the term entered the popular vocabulary of sports fans and journalists in the 1930s, Sir Barton was recognized after the fact as the first to accomplish the feat in 1919.

Churchill Downs had moved the Derby from its traditional place on the opening day card to the second Saturday of the meet in 1923 in order to avoid a conflict with the Preakness, which was held the week prior. This arrangement continued until 1932, when the Derby was moved to the first Saturday in May, where it has remained, with two exceptions, ever since. The Derby was popular before the Triple Crown was even recognized. It could have survived with or without the Triple Crown. However, the association with the most important series of races in the country certainly raised the prestige of each of the races, including the Derby.

Matt Winn [the human face of the Kentucky Derby for almost fifty years] recognized the potential for a national Triple Crown series consisting of the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont and was an early proponent of a bonus to be presented to the winner of all three races, but the racetracks that hosted the events failed to cooperate. In fact, at least as early as 1919 Winn had proposed a Triple Crown modeled after the English version but consisting of three races run exclusively in Kentucky: the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, the Latonia Derby near Cincinnati, and a third race to be created at the Kentucky Association track in Lexington. The Kentucky Triple Crown never came to fruition, but the Kentucky Derby was certainly a beneficiary of the increase in media attention paid to the American Triple Crown series beginning in the 1930s. That acknowledgment of the American Triple Crown gave the three races, including then Derby, a small connection to the history and prestige of the English version on which the American Triple Crown was based.

Prior to Saturday, many wondered whether we would ever see another Triple Crown champion. Now, with American Pharoah’s ascension into the ranks of Sir Barton, War Admiral, and Secretariat, we’ve been reminded that the Triple Crown is achievable but that it takes a truly special horse to deserve the title and those just don’t come around every year.

2015 Kentucky Derby

Brace yourselves! In a little over a week, the 2015 Kentucky Derby will be here!

Since 1875, Kentucky has been home to this annual event and the Derby’s history is forever intertwined with Kentucky. Each year, people from different states and different nationalities come together in Louisville to take part in what is perhaps the shortest sporting event in history. From mint juleps to colorful, extravagant hats, from the wagers to the crowning of the winner, the Kentucky Derby is sure to please both young and old, male and female.

Here are a list of books for all of you Derby fanatics or Kentucky connoisseurs to prep you for the big day! Take a look!

John Eisenberg draws on more than fifteen years of sports writing experience and a hundred interviews throughout Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Florida, and Arkansas to tell the story almost nobody knew in 1992: the story of and underdog, perseverance, and the overcoming of one’s obstacles.

The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America’s Premier Sporting Event calls this great tradition to post and illuminates its history and culture.

Never Say Die traces the history of this extraordinary colt, beginning with his foaling in Lexington, Kentucky, when a shot of bourbon whiskey revived him and earned him his name. Author James C. Nicholson also tells the stories of the influential individuals brought together by the horse and his victory—from the heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune to the Aga Khan.

In The Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy, author Pellom McDaniels III offers the first definitive biography of this celebrated athlete, whose life spanned the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the adoption of Jim Crow legislation.

Heroes and Horses presents a series of delightful vignettes evoking a way of life almost beyond recall. Bourbon County, the touchstone for Ardery’s life, is the center that holds together the tales in the collection. Stories about Ardery’s family home, “Rocclicgan,” boyhood activities on the farm, and the servants’ kitchen gossip paint vivid portraits of a lost time in Kentucky’s history.

For more than 125 years, the world’s attention has turned to Louisville for the annual running of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.The Encyclopedia of Louisville is the ultimate reference for Kentucky’s largest city.

Interested in other Kentucky oriented books or just longing for a new book to read this summer, head on over to UPK’s website to check out the rest of our fantastic book selection!!

“Groundbreaking for Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden Celebrates Unsung Hero of Kentucky Racing”

Isaac Burns MurphyFinally, after many months and years of fundraising, the Isaac Burns Murphy Memorial Art Garden has broken ground on the East End of Lexington, KY. The Memorial Garden, long-planned as the downtown trailhead of the Legacy Trail which will extend some 12 miles to the Kentucky Horse Park, celebrates the achievements of jockey Isaac Burns Murphy as well as other African American contributions to the Thoroughbred industry. Located at the intersection of Third Street and Midland Avenue, where Murphy’s house once stood during the late 1800s, it is also only a few blocks away from where the Kentucky Association Race Track operated prior to the construction of Keeneland.

Read more about the Isaac Burns Murphy Memorial Art Garden, and see photos from the groundbreaking

Isaac Burns Murphy (1861–1896) was one of the most dynamic jockeys of his era. Still considered one of the finest riders of all time, Murphy was the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times, and his 44 percent win record remains unmatched. Despite his success, Murphy was pushed out of Thoroughbred racing when African American jockeys were forced off the track, and he died in obscurity.

In his book, The Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns MurphyPellom McDaniels honors a man who epitomized the rise of the black middle class. Murphy helped prove that African Americans were not only worthy of citizenship, but capable of representing the best of humanity.

The Prince of Jockeys Isaac Burns MurphyContinue for an excerpt from The Prince of Jockeys

 

Continue reading

Don’t be late! Mother’s Day is this Sunday

Image

Make sure you get the right gift for Mom BEFORE Mother’s Day happens this Sunday. . . you know she deserves it for putting up with you, right? Below, you’ll find a few of our picks for books that your Mom will love, no matter her style.

 Glamorous Mom

  

 

Chef Mom

  

 

Literary Mom

  

 

Musical Mom

  

 

Sporty Mom

  

 

Outdoors-y Mom

  

 

Bourbon Mom

  

 

Kentucky Proud Mom

  

 

Bourbon Desserts: The Best of Both Worlds!

Many people think of bourbon as a dessert because of its deliciously sweet taste. But what happens when you actually add bourbon to a dessert? Pure magic. You can take our word for it on this one.

Kentucky Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream

You might already be familiar with the traditional bourbon desserts that are popular in and around the Bluegrass state. Bourbon Balls, a sinfully delicious candy made with bourbon, chocolate, and pecans, have been a staple of the bourbon-dessert industry for decades.

bourbon balls

For fans of colder treats, Bourbon Ball Ice Cream has become an increasingly popular dessert to many. Keeneland has been adding bourbon to their famous bread pudding for years—and you don’t hear anyone complaining!

Now that we’ve gotten your attention, we’re sure you want to try all of these desserts yourself. Just to ensure that we weren’t making anything up and to do some of your own field research, of course.

right gif

The best place to start your bourbon dessert journey is in UPK’s book Bourbon Desserts by celebrated food writer and home chef, Lynn Marie Hulsman. The title says it all people.

HulsmanCompF.indd

This book features more than seventy-five decadent desserts using America’s native spirit. Hulsman brings together a collection of confections highlighting the complex flavor notes of Kentucky bourbon, which are sure to delight the senses. Giving readers the confidence to prepare these easy-to-execute desserts, this cookbook also features fun facts about bourbon and its origins as well as tips and tricks for working in the kitchen.

Interested? We know. Keep reading for a never-before-seen recipe from the book!

Sinner’s Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Growing up, I heard lots of talk from my Grandma and the ladies in her front-room, one-chair beauty salon about “reducing.” Apart from cantaloupe and cottage cheese, or half a grapefruit with a maraschino cherry on top, the only virtuous dessert was angel food cake. I never cared for the sticky, Styrofoam redolent packaged concoctions from the supermarket, though. Here’s my twist: A homemade version that actually tastes like wholesome food. Perhaps it’s a little lighter, with fewer calories than some desserts. I don’t really care. I’m after thrills like bourbon and chocolate, and they’re in there. Sinful? You decide.

Makes 1 10-inch x 4-inch angel food cake

1 tablespoon butter, for greasing
3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted twice, plus more for flouring
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I like Scharffenberger’s)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup egg whites (from 6 to 7 large or 8 to 9 small eggs), at room temperature
1 tablespoon bourbon

Grease a 10-inch x 4-inch tube pan with butter, dust it with flour, and set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour twice into a large mixing bowl, then measure it into another large mixing bowl.

Add the cocoa to the flour, then sift together three times. Add the cream of tartar, and sift the dry mixture together one more time, then set it aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and salt, and sift them together four times, then set the mixture aside.

Using an electric mixer, set to medium-high speed, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry, until you have medium-high peaks, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle on enough of the flour-cocoa mixture to dust the top of the foam without collapsing it, then gently fold it in with a spatula. Alternate with small amounts of the sugar-salt mixture, and continue until all of the dry ingredients are folded into the egg whites.

Add the bourbon to the mixture, and fold in gently using the spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 300 degrees F, and bake for 45 more minutes or until a wooden cake tester or metal skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Invert the entire pan onto a wire rack on the countertop, and allow it to cool for two to three hours. Once it’s cool, loosen the cake from the pan using a butter knife, and set it upright on a cake plate.

Store in an airtight plastic cake safe or tin for up to 1 week.


 

If you’re interested in buying the book, you can pre-order it on our website. It’s expected to be released in August of this year! Be sure to check out Hulsman’s website if you can’t get enough of this talented author!