Kevin Krigger hopes it is all Goldencents at Kentucky Derby

Kevin Krigger - Photo © Benoit Photo

Between 1875 and 1902, black jockeys won 15 of the first 28 running’s of the Kentucky Derby. In the 1800’s, the jockey colony in the United States was predominately black. Many of the jockeys were from plantations where the horse owners owned both horse and jockey. The Civil War changed slavery but then came the Jim Crow laws. It seems that white jockeys and officials ran black riders off the track. Churchill Downs was completely segregated throughout the 1950s.

On May 4th, Kevin Krigger will become just the 2nd second black jockey to compete in the Derby since 1921, and the first from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Marlon St. Julian of Louisiana became the first Black jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby in nearly 80 years when he rode 50-1 shot Curule in the 2001 Derby.

“Years ago, this business was all black riders,” says Tom Knust, Krigger’s agent. “Now, it’s a rarity. He’s overcome a lot of obstacles to get where he is.” (Tom Knust was racing secretary at Santa Anita Park and Del Mar Race Course before becoming a jockey agent)

Kevin will ride Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, an early top-10 favorite trained by Doug O’Neill (who trained last year’s Derby winner, I’ll Have Another). Kevin came close to riding 2012 Derby and Preakness winner ‘I’ll Have Another’ but the mount went to Mario Gutierrez instead, although Krigger had worked the horse for trainer Doug O’Neal. “That would have been great if that was to happen, but I didn’t get the assignment so I just keep on working. My time will come,” Krigger had said.

“I’m glad as an African-American jockey to be in this position after so long,” Krigger says. “But that’s not what’s going to decide the race.”

The first time he rode Goldencents, Krigger won by seven lengths, almost setting a track record.

Tom Knust, Kevin’s agent told us that he and Kevin will arrive in Louisville this Saturday, have lots of interviews set up and plan on enjoying the Derby experience. There is nothing like seeing one’s first Kentucky Derby as a spectator, so being a jockey and having the build-up to riding your first Derby – WOW!