What black jockey won the Kentucky Derby three times?

Isaac Burns Murphy (1861–1896), the first jockey of any race to win the Kentucky Derby three times, was considered one of the greatest race riders in American history: He won 44 percent of all the races he rode. His Derby record held until 1930. Murphy won the first in 1884, the second in 1890, and the third in 1891, which made him the first jockey to capture Derby titles two years in a row. In 1884 he became the only jockey to win the Derby, the Kentucky Oaks, and the Clark Stakes in the same Churchill Downs meeting. In 1955 Murphy was the first jockey voted into the Jockey Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Racing, Saratoga Springs, New York. Born on the David Tanner farm in Fayette County, Kentucky, he took the name Murphy to honor his grandfather, Green Murphy, a well-known auctioneer in Lexington. He learned to ride at age fourteen and was one of the dominant figures in thoroughbred racing from the Civil War until 1891. Murphy won forty-nine of fifty-one starts in Saratoga in 1882 and had multiple wins in the Clark Handicap, the Latonia Derby, and the American Derby, during the 1880s. In the latter years of his racing career, he had a weight problem and once was suspended for being drunk while racing when, in reality, weakness from dieting caused him to fall from his horse. His participation in races declined, and he tried to change gears and become a horse trainer. He was a resident of Lexington, Kentucky, at the time of his death. His body was removed from its grave in a segregated cemetery in 1967, and his remains were reburied with a marker at Man O’ War Memorial Park in Fayette County, Kentucky.

One of the most successful jockeys of all time was Isaac Burns Murphy, the first person to win the Kentucky Derby three times.


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