Countdown to Derby with fifteen fun facts: #13 The Youngsters [Horse Racing]

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It was two centuries ago that the youngest Kentucky Derby winners were crowned. No one has been able to steal that title in well over 100 years. 

James Rowe, Sr. holds the record as the youngest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby. He was only 24 when he coached Hindoo to victory in 1881. Hindoo had 18 consecutive wins in his career and was later named to the Racing Hall of Fame. 

Rowe also trained the filly Regret to a Kentucky Derby win in 1915. Regret was the first filly to ever win the Derby. There have only been two other fillies since then to gain that honor. 

Rowe began a successful career as a jockey in 1871, at the age of 14. He was the nation's top rider from 1871-1873.  When he grew too big to continue on as a jockey, he became a trainer and went on to great success in that career as well. The Hall of Fame trainer is recognized for having trained 34 champions, which is more than any trainer in history. At least 10 of his trainees have been inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame.

The youngest jockey to ever win the Kentucky Derby was Alonzo "Lonnie" Clayton. He was 15 when he rode Azra to Kentucky Derby victory in 1892. A gifted rider, Clayton found immediate success as a jockey by winning the Champagne Stakes with Azra in his first year as a jockey at the age of 14. Although Clayton won several stakes races at various racetracks and a riding title at Churchill Downs, by the onset of the Twentieth Century, his riding career was virtually finished. 

Before the turn of the century, African American jockeys dominated the Kentucky Derby, winning 15 of the first 28 runnings of the prestigious race. However, after the turn of the century, bigotry set in and African American riders were replaced. As an African American in an extremely prejudiced time, Clayton was unable to secure mounts as many trainers and owners began to opt for white jockeys. 

It's unclear what became of Clayton's career, but records show that he bought a farm and built a luxury home for his parents and siblings and also owned commercial property in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Photo: CreativeCommons.com

About Jessie Oswald
I'm a lifetime Louisville resident with a passion for horse racing. When I'm not working as an immigration paralegal or taking care of my family, I follow Thoroughbred racing and love to share the excitement and beauty of the sport with anyone willing to learn!
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