By NYRA Press Office


Willie Simms
Willie Simms

Hall of Famer Ed Brown became the first African-American jockey to win the Belmont Stakes in 1870 aboard Kingfisher. Following his riding career, Brown became a successful trainer and in 1877 he trained Kentucky Derby winner Baden Baden, who finished third in the 11th running of the Belmont Stakes that year. Born in Lexington, Ky. in 1850, Brown died of tuberculosis in Louisville on May 11, 1906.

The only African-American jockey to win the Belmont Stakes twice was Hall of Famer Willie Simms with Commanche (1893) and Henry of Navaree (1894). Simms is also known for introducing the “short” style of riding by leaning forward, crouched over the withers with his feet tucked into short stirrups. He is the only black rider to win all three Triple Crown events; he won the Kentucky Derby with Ben Brush (1896) and Plaudit (1898) and the Preakness with Sly Fox (1898). Simms’ record in the Belmont also included one second-place finish (Handspring in 1896), two thirds (Nanki Poo in 1895 and Octagon in 1897) and a fourth (Chaos in 1890). 

Jockey Oliver Lewis, who captured the inaugural running of the Kentucky Derby in 1875 on Aristides, finished second, two lengths behind Calvin, in the ninth running of the Belmont that year.

In 1889, jockey Anthony “Tony” Hamilton rode odds-on favorite Diablo to a second-place finish in the 23rd running of the Belmont. During his career, Hamilton won many major races including the Brooklyn (Exile in 1889 and Hornpipe in 1895), Metropolitan (Counter Tenor in 1896) and Suburban (Lazzarone in 1895) Handicaps, as well as the country’s oldest stakes race, the Phoenix Handicap (Sligo in 1881).

Beaver Dam, N.Y.-native Shelby “Pike” Barnes won the 24th running of the Belmont in 1890 aboard Burlington. Barnes’ riding career was cut short due to problems maintaining his weight.