“Kevin Krigger is on a winning team for the Kentucky Derby.
The 29-year-old, born on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, will be riding Goldencents, co-owned by coach Rick Pitino of Louisville's NCAA basketball championship team and trained by Doug O'Neill, who won the Derby last year.
African-American jockeys won 15 Derby titles between the first race in 1875 and Jimmy Winkfield's victory in 1902. Racial segregation ensued. No African American has won the Derby since then. The most recent African American to ride in the Derby was Marlon St. Julien, a Louisiana native who placed seventh in 2000.”
Krigger said Tuesday that his focus was on finishing first.
"Well, point blank, winning the Derby is history," he says. "Winning the Derby for my first time is history. Doug O'Neill winning his second consecutive Derby is history. Me being African American (and winning) is history. Every stipulation that I have going for me is historical, so it's just a part of winning the Derby."
Krigger got his riding start at the age of 5 on St. Croix aboard a horse owned by a neighbor. He came to the USA as a teenager, began his career in Ohio and rides on the Southern California circuit, where he steered Goldencents to victory in the Santa Anita Derby on April 6.
"I really grew up just wanting to be better than any other jockey," he says. "That is basically what I grew up … putting into myself and instilling into myself."
He was mentored by jockey Julio Felix. "I wouldn't say I patterned my riding style after anyone else, but what I would say is Julio Felix helped me learn the fundamentals of riding," Krigger says.
Last year, O'Neill won the Derby with jockey Mario Gutierrez, who also was a Derby first-timer.
"Physically and mentally, (Krigger is) very consistent," O'Neill says. "He just shows up. He's got a great work ethic. And more than anything, he's just got a great chemistry with Goldencents."
I didnt know Black Jockeys DOMINATED horse racing in the late 19th Century. In the FIRST Derby in 1875 13 of the 15 horses were ridden by Black jockeys..Wow...Good Luck Kevin!!