More than 100 years after Jimmy Winkfield won the Kentucky Derby in 1902, Kevin Krigger could become the first black jockey to take home the storied crown in over a century.
Krigger, a native of St. Croix, is already a history maker. Earlier in the season, the 29-year-old became the first black jockey to win the Santa Anita Derby aboard Goldencents, the thoroughbred he’ll be riding at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
Despite his shot at being the first black jockey to win the venerable race in 111 years, Krigger has been reluctant to view himself as anything more than a hardworking jockey.
“My Derby dream is not, I’m going to be the first African-American to win the Derby since 1902,” Krigger told the New York Times. “My Derby dream is, I’m going to win the Kentucky Derby. I’m here because I’m a good jockey.”
Others aren’t so quick to downplay Krigger’s shot at history.
Thomas Tolliver, a board member of the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden, a group that pays homage to one of the Derby’s most successful black jockeys, notes:
“What excites me about Kevin Krigger being in the Derby and getting the attention he’s getting is that it gives recognition to all the black jockeys who’ve ridden in this race whose stories are so often overlooked. You can’t write the story about Kevin Krigger without mentioning it’s been 111 years since there was a winning black jockey, and you have to talk about why they disappeared, and the contributions they made.”
Saturday’s race may make history on a few fronts. In addition to Krigger’s shot at the crown, if successful, Rosie Napravnik could become the first woman to ever win the race.