In the 1890s, an African-American jockey named Jimmy Winkfield was the last Black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. Throughout the nineteenth century, African-Americans dominated Thoroughbred racing. Most of them in the South, before the Civil War, were slaves. Winkfield gained fame in America as well as in Europe and Czarist Russia.
Today, in Queens, New York, a race is held every year in his honor–The Jimmy Winkfield Stakes. I’ve attached a short YouTube video that tells about his fascinating life.
Turfmen and the Prodigal: A Novel of Antebellum Mobile, due for release in September, features some fictional jockeys as they train and compete against each other.