Jimmy Winkfield was born on April 12, 1882 in Chilesburg, Ky. He rose to fame by winning back-to-back editions of the Kentucky Derby with His Eminence in 1901 and Alan-a-Dale in 1902. Winkfield remains the last African-American to win the Run for the Roses.
Winkfield’s best year in the United States was in 1901 when he won a documented 220 races. Along with the Kentucky Derby, Winkfield won the Clark Handicap, Tennessee Derby, Latonia Derby, and New Orleans Derby that year.
In 1904, Winkfield joined the ranks of American riders who went abroad, and he became the champion jockey in Russia that year.
During the next dozen years, Winkfield won the Russian Derby four times, the Czar’s Prize three times, the Russian Oaks five times, and the Warsaw Derby twice. He also rode successfully in Germany. During the Russian Revolution in 1917, he helped the racetrack community and 200 horses escape from Odessa on a 1,000-mile journey.
Winkfield later rode in France, where his major victories included the Prix President de la Republic, Grand Prix of Deauville, and Prix Eugene Adam.
When Winkfield retired from riding at age 50, available records indicated he had won more than 2,500 races in various countries throughout a career of more than 30 years. Winkfield later became a successful trainer in France until he was again forced to flee because of the German occupation during World War II. He trained briefly in the United States and returned to France some years after World War II to resume his career. Winkfield died at his farm in France in 1974.
The United States House of Representatives passed a resolution to honor Winkfield in 2005 and the New York Racing Association named a race in his honor that runs each year at Aqueduct.
Jimmy Winkfield was inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 2004.