First Black to win Santa Anita Derby in its 78 year history
Kevin Krigger became the first Black jockey to win the Santa Anita Derby in its 78-year history. Now, he is set on winning the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Krigger is the first Black jockey to win the Santa Anita Derby in its 78-year history. He was poised to become the first Black jockey to ride on the first Saturday of May since 2000. He had a speedy and sturdy horse under his 5-foot-6, 110-pound frame, one that has a solid shot of making him the first Black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby since Jimmy Winkfield who won two straight, in 1901 and 1902. For as long as Krigger can remember, he has wanted to be on the back of a horse. Growing up in St. Croix, he was surrounded by horses — some thoroughbreds, most mixed breeds. He used to pull the horses next to cars and jump on them because he was too small to climb up on their backs. Kevin Krigger does not know where his love of horses came from, but he and his family have theories.
One is that when his mother, Averil Simmonds, was pregnant, his father would not let her ride horses. The only thing Krigger ever wanted to be was a jockey. He watched every Triple Crown race; he set up a saddle on the arm of his couch. He was only 4 feet 8 inches — short, even for a jockey. In 2001, the 17-year-old Krigger landed at Thistledown Racecourse near Cleveland. He won 50 races there and won 3 at Mountaineer Park in West Virginia. He headed west and won 12 races in three weeks at Golden Gate Fields. An agent from Southern California, Tom Knust, called Krigger; he jumped at the opportunity and moved his family into a hotel first and then a trailer before settling into a rented house. He rose earlier than 5 a.m. so he could get to the track before the other jockeys. What he could not have predicted was that the horse about to show up was a Derby-caliber one, and that history was just around the next bend.