The Youngest Jockeys in History to Win the Kentucky Derby

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Horses are powerful animals. For many of us, they are beautiful, majestic, noble, strong, but also gentle and sensitive. Throughout the history of mankind, horses have been our faithful companions who helped us survive, thrive, and develop. Since ancient times when they were domesticated, approximately 5,000 years ago, we’ve used them to travel, to hunt, for agriculture and cargo transfer, and in warfare. Horse riding was a part of human life to such an extent that we even included it in our favorite amusement activities. Rodeo, cross country, polo, show jumping and, of course, horse races are still favorite competitions for many horse lovers.

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Horses as an Inspiration

Someone said that horses are poetry in motion. The way their bodies move, the enchanting dance of their muscles, their seductive playfulness while they’re tossing their manes was and still is an infinite inspiration and challenge for artists. Young people who study history and art are still showing interest in horses. However, even though it’s a great subject for an Edubirdie writer, it requires a strong grasp of the concept of how complex horses are, and also how demanding it is to raise and maintain them. Countless books and articles about horses and horse riding as well as numerous photographs of jockeys on the horseback, that can be found on the Internet, are obvious confirmation and proof of how intriguing this topic is and why so many humans continue to be fascinated by horses.

Kentucky Derby – A Jewel in Triple Crown

The first Kentucky Derby was held on May 17, 1875. The inspiration came from the the English Derby and the French Grand Prix de Paris. The Kentucky Derby founder, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., wanted to bring the atmosphere surrounding these competitions home to Louisville, Ky. The first step was to organize the Louisville Jockey Club and to build the Churchill Downs racetrack and facilities. Today, the Kentucky Derby is an event with a long tradition and many symbols, rituals, and ceremonies such as a drink called the mint julep and a dish known as burgoo. For this occasion, women like to dress elegantly and to accessorize their look with the inevitable large hats, another tradition borrowed from European Derbys. Stephen Foster’s song “My Old Kentucky Home” played by the University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band is a traditional Kentucky Derby highlight that began in 1921. The Kentucky Derby is one of the largest spectator sports events in the U.S., typically drawing a crowd around 150,000 or more.

This race as well as the Preakness Stakes and Belmond Stakes are three equally important members of the American Triple Crown competition. Any 3-year-old Thoroughbred that wins all three races receives a trophy and the title “ Winner of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing”.

The 146th winner of the 2020 Kentucky Derby was Authentic.

Photo by Gusztáv Galló from Pexels

The Youngest Winning Jockeys in the History of the Kentucky Derby

Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton is the youngest jockey to ever win the Kentucky Derby. He won this race in the year 1892 at the age of 15 and still holds the record as the youngest winning rider.  According to the late television reporter and author Edward Hotaling, he was also one of the greatest if not the best jockeys of his time. Alonzo Clayton is an inspiration for many students all over the world who want to become professional race riders.

If you want to build your career as a jockey but have trouble with combining it with studying, Edubirdie's assignment experts will help you with some of the academic work as well as numerous other online assignment services. Outsourcing some of your homework to get more time for training is an effective strategy that many young academics practice.

As a 12-year-old boy, Lonnie Clayton followed his brother’s footsteps to start his career as an exercise rider. His professional jockey journey started in New Jersey, in the year 1890 at the age of 14.  His talent was so obvious that only one year later, in 1891, he won his first trophies and in 1892 he won the Kentucky Derby, too, with horse named Azra. The same duo won Clark Handicap twice and Travers Stakes in 1892.

James “Soup” Perkins, was another talented jockey who won in the Kentucky Derby in 1895 with the horse Halma, also at the age of 15. This rider who had an excellent physical and mental winning predisposition also ranks just behind Alonzo Clayton as the second-youngest winning jockey in the history of the Kentucky Derby. His father and two brothers Frank and Will were all horse trainers, which is probably the reason why Perkins began riding when he was only 11 years old.

Texas native Bill Boland began his Hall of Fame career at Belmont Park in 1949 as a 16-year-old apprentice jockey. He guided Better Self to victory in April 1950 in the Gallant Fox Handicap to earn his first career stakes win while riding for the legendary connections of owner King Ranch and trainer Max Hirsch. He didn’t wait long to add to his stakes resume, winning the Kentucky Oaks aboard Ari’s Mona before guiding Middleground to victory a day later in the Kentucky Derby on May 6, 1950. Boland, who did not turn 17 until that July and was still an apprentice when he won the Derby, narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown as Middleground ran second in the Preakness and won the Belmont Stakes. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006, Boland won the 1959 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award given to the North American jockey who demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct on and off the racetrack.

Steve Cauthen was born in 1960 on a farm in Walton, Ky. He first bonded with horses while grooming them and cleaning stalls. At the age of 12, as he was a foot shorter than his classmates, he started dreaming about a professional jockey career. Four years later, he rode his first race at Churchill Downs but finished in last place. After he grew and progressed, as a professional rider he won many races, including Kentucky Derby in 1978 with Affirmed at age 18. Cauthen and Affirmed also won the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1978 to sweep the Triple Crown.


Although riding horses  is not a common physical activity, there are many horseback riding venues and similar institutions with modern facilities in the U.S. offering various educational and health programs. Riding already found its use as a therapy in behavioral health disorders, as well as for physical programs and treatment services. According to pediatric chiropractors, therapy with pony riding helps and improves the conditions of sick and disabled children.

Riding also develops core strength and coordination, increases muscle tone, improves mental state, and stimulates socialization. Even competing in races can increase motivation and boost a healthy competitive mindset. People who ride and train horseback riding for competitions are healthier, self-confident, and more driven to challenge themselves to try new things and strive for progress and personal development.

Author Bio: Judy Nelson is a freelance content writer engaged with numerous online publishers. As a writer, Judy is focused on producing educational and easy to read academic content as well as pieces of advice aimed to inform and provide practical solutions to various professional and lifestyle issues. Her goal is to keep her audience interested and engaged with the content.

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