On Derby day, remember the African American jockey who basically put it on the map: Isaac Murphy

Yep, Lexington’s own Isaac Murphy – First 3 time winner of the KY Derby – First Jockey inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I hadn’t heard of him really until about 4 years ago either – now I know….how many other citizens of the “Horse Capital of the World” have no clue? 

Isaac ushered horse racing into the modern age.   We’re building a park on his homeplace to honor his and other African Americans contributions to the industry.  It is past time in Lexington to start honoring the HUMANS that actually made us the HCotW.

Visit the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden project site here to learn and give.  We’re over 80% of the way there – at this point we are raising only private dollars. 

Look for a big event on the site on Saturday May 14th 1;30 – 3:00pm – help us do an archeological dig of Isaac’s house, crafts and stick horse races for kids, Mayor Gray, Vice Mayor Gorton, 1st District Council person Chris Ford, Council at Large Steve Kay and other dignitaries…

Come out – fun and community building for the whole family.


Isaac Burns Murphy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


 Isaac Burns Murphy (April 16, 1861 – February 12, 1896) was an African-American Hall of Fame jockey. The official Kentucky Derby website and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame say that “Isaac Murphy is considered one of the greatest race riders in American history.”

Isaac Burns was born in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. His father served in the Union army in the Civil War, until his death at Camp Nelson as a prisoner of war. After Burns’ father’s death, his family moved to Lexington, where they lived with Burns’ grandfather, Green Murphy. When he became a jockey at age 14, he changed his last name to Murphy to honor his grandfather.

Isaac Murphy competed in eleven Kentucky Derbys, becoming the first jockey to win three Derbys: “Buchanan” in 1884, “Riley” in 1890, and “Kingman” in 1891. “Kingman” was owned and trained by Dudley Allen and is the only horse owned by an African-American to win the Derby.

As well, he is the only jockey to have won the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks, and the Clark Handicap all in the same year (1884). Considered one of the great jockeys in American history, Murphy was dubbed the “Colored Archer,” a reference to Fred Archer, a prominent English jockey at the time.

Murphy won 628 of his 1,412 starts, a 44% victory rate that has never been equaled and a record about which Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Arcaro said: “There is no chance that his record of winning will ever be surpassed. [2] On its creation, Isaac Burns Murphy was the fhe first jockey to be inducted in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In 1956, Murphy was an inaugural inductee in the National Jockey’s Hall of Fame at Pimlico Race Course. [1]

In 1896 in Lexington, Kentucky, Isaac Murphy died of pneumonia and over time his unmarked grave in African Cemetery No. 2 was forgotten. Then in the 1960s, Frank B. Borries, Jr., a University of Kentucky press specialist, spent three years searching for the grave site. In 1967, Murphy was interred at the old Man o’ War burial site. But with the building of the Kentucky Horse Park, his remains were moved again to be buried next to Man o’ War at the Kentucky Horse Park’s entrance.

Since 1995 the National Turf Writers Association has given the Isaac Murphy Award to the jockey with the highest winning percentage for a given year in North American racing, from a minimum of 500 mounts.


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