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Oliver Lewis,a Black jockey,won the first Kentucky Derby on May 17,1875.Lewis rode a horse named “Aristides,”

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Riding the colt Aristides, Oliver Lewis won the inaugural Kentucky Derby on May 17, 1875. His time of two minutes 37.75 seconds also set an American record over the mile and a half distance (the Kentucky Derby became a 1.25 mile race in 1896). Lewis was one of 13 black jockeys in the 15-strong field. Early in the race, he joined a small group behind Volcano, who led the race from the start. Lewis had been instructed to force the pace to favor another horse owned by H.P. McGrath, Chesapeake. But as they entered the final stretch Aristides and Volcano were out in front and Chesapeake was trailing the pack. Lewis, riding Aristides, won the race in front of 10,000 spectators by two lengths ahead of Volcano. Chesapeake came home eighth. Later the same season, again riding Aristides, Lewis took second in the Belmont Stakes and won three races on Churchill Downs that season, but he never rode in the Kentucky Derby again. Very little biographical information is available, but it is known that Lewis later served as a supplier of information about horses for a bookmaker, which was then legal.

 

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