He got the horses in the back!
Kendrick Carmouche is set to make history as the first Black jockey to race in the Kentucky Derby in almost a decade, Blavity reports.
Carmouche followed in his father, Sylvester Carmouche Jr.’s footsteps; he was a professional equestrian from 1978 until a neck injury retired him in 2013. Since age 16, Carmouche has been riding professionally, racing across the nation, and making a name for himself as one of the most sought-after jockeys. He has amassed more than $118 million in earnings and garnered 3,400 victories over his career. After a hairline fracture during the Kentucky Downs and a six-month recovery process, the famed rider is back to make history, becoming the first Black jockey to race in the Derby since Kevin Krigger in 2013.
“I never thought I was going to have one of my sons in there. It means a lot. I told him, ‘God has a plan for you. Just live it’...Just to see him in the paddock, I’ll be so happy to be there with him and support him,” Sylvester said of his son’s historic moment.
The 37-year-old said that he was determined to make it back to the races despite all of his obstacles. “There was no doubt in my mind I’d come back. No such thing. Not in my life. I have two kids. I tell them that regardless of the obstacle, you have to keep pushing,” he said.
During the inception of the Kentucky Derby, Black equestrians ruled the sport. The L.A. Times reported that “15 out of the first 28 winning jockeys were Black.” Racism, white supremacist delusion, and Jim Crow laws forced Blacks out of the sport, and none participated from 1922 to 2000, an 80-year-gap in representation. Now equestrians like Carmouche are returning in mass, and they are showing the world just what hard work and dedication will get you.
“You have to polish yourself. You have to ride smart. You have to do all the correct things and grind it out until that happens. This is where I want to be...If you don’t dream it, it’s never going to happen. I dreamed it. To be here at this point and how long it took and the hard work that I put in to get to this point...going to the Kentucky Derby, this is icing and everything on the cake,” Carmouche said.
The 147th Kentucky Derby takes place Saturday, May 1st, in Lousiville, Kentucky, at Churchill Downs.
Photo Courtesy of Sarah Andrew/Thoroughbred Daily News