African Americans’ contributions to horse racing past, present, future
FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Andy Beshear marked Monday of Kentucky Derby Week by signing a proclamation designating April 25 – May 1 as Ed Brown Society Week, recognizing African Americans’ contributions to horse racing ahead of the 147th Run For the Roses.
The Ed Brown Society is named after Edward D. Brown, born into slavery in Lexington in 1850. Still, through his tenacity and love of the sport, he developed into one of the most accomplished African American horsemen in the history of thoroughbred racing.
Brown was sold at age seven to a proprietor of the horse farm Woodburn Stud in Woodford County. Brown had a small boyhood stature but gained a vast knowledge of horses, which allowed him to become a jockey in his early teens.
At 14, Brown won his first race on a horse named Asteroid. A year later, he was emancipated and continued to work at Woodburn Stud until the proprietor died in 1867. Afterward, Brown built his career as a top jockey and trainer until he saved enough money to establish his own racing stable, where he owned and trained several stakes winners.
His most distinguished career highlights include riding Kingfisher to win the fourth running of the Belmont Stakes in 1870 and led Baden-Baden as a trainer in 1877 to win the third running of the Kentucky Derby.
Brown’s important role in thoroughbred racing was confirmed with his 1984 induction into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
“In the 1800s and early 1900s, the majority of jockeys were African Americans. But, despite their centuries of contributions, after World War I, African Americans were pushed out of the sport,” said Gov. Beshear. “I am proud to recognize the Ed Brown Society, an organization helping right this wrong by providing mentorship to the next generation of African American Kentuckians in the horseracing industry.”
Ray Daniels, CEO of Equity Solutions Group and president of the Ed Brown Society, said their purpose is to focus on the role of African Americans in the past, the present and the future of horse racing.
“In our past, we want to acknowledge and educate about the wonderful history of African Americans in horse racing in our great state,” Daniels stated. “In the present day, we want to highlight the great jobs and opportunities in the equine industry. We’ve been successful in guiding 30 African Americans into horse ownership in the past few years and want to guide 30 more in the next few years. The future for us is to educate young folks to make these opportunities in the industry happen.”
Beshear noted the reason he had the recognition and the beginning of Derby Week, “It shines a bright light on the wrongs of the past and on the efforts that need to be taken in the future.”