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Issac Murphy was an African-American Hall of Fame jockey, who is considered one of the greatest riders in American Thoroughbred horse racing history
Isaac Murphy’s first Kentucky Derby win came May 27, 1884 at Churchill Downs. Two more victories would follow in 1890 and 1891. In 1884, Murphy also won the American Derby in Chicago, Illinois, at the time the most prestigious race in the nation. He would repeat this feat in 1885, 1886 and 1888. Throughout his career, Murphy rode 628 winners in his 1,412 mounts, including the three Kentucky Derby winners previously mentioned, four American Derby winners, and five Latonia Derby winners. Murphy has the best winning average in history to date with better than 34 percent. - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/murphy-isaac-burns-1861-1896#sthash.k0jvVt6z.dpuf
During the height of his career Murphy received an average yearly salary of $10,000-20,000 excluding bonuses, making him the highest paid jockey in the United States. He lived in a mansion in Lexington. It is believed that Murphy was the first African American to own a racehorse. He owned several racehorses and invested in real estate as well.
On June 25, 1890, Murphy raced in the most memorable contest of his life. Matched against a white counterpart, jockey Ed “Snapper” Garrison; the race would settle the debate as to which rider was the better jockey. In a contest that had definite racial overtones, Murphy was victorious.
Murphy’s popularity soon fell after this race. In August, 1890, just two month’s after Murphy’s victory, he was suspended for racing while intoxicated after falling off his horse in a race. In the following years he also ran and won fewer races as he battled both alcohol abuse and weight gain. In 1895 Murphy was suspended for the second time, because of intoxication. That same year he failed to win a single race and was forced to retirement. Murphy died three months later from pneumonia. At the height of his career Issac Burns Murphy was the best jockey of his time and still holds the best winning percentage of jockeys.
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