“Too Black Too Fast” Celebrates the History of African American Jockeys in Thoroughbred Horse Racing

Posted at 3:26 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 15:26:57-05

More than 200 years before Jackie Robinson took the baseball field, black jockeys ruled the “sport of kings” from the 1600s until the early 1900s.

"I had no knowledge of black jockeys so I figured as an artist the best way I can show that was through visual art," said Michael J. McBride.

McBride started working on the exhibit “Too Black Too Fast” in 1991.

His work shows how African Americans were heavily involved with the sport of horse racing beginning around 1607 and dominating it until 1910.

"Andrew Jackson was a big gambler and loved horses and horse racing. Monkey Simon was this four foot six or seven slave. He was a prince from the west coast of Africa. Andrew Jackson told him one time and said, Monkey when you're riding and racing against my jockey do not spit back in his face, the tobacco juice back in his face, and [Monkey Simon] told him well Mr. Jackson your jockey will never be close enough to even catch my spit," said McBride.

The exhibit tells the amazing story of resilience. 13 of the 15 jockeys in the Inaugural Derby in 1875 were African American.

"As many people who attend horse races on an annual bases, the fact that they don’t know that African princes and kings in some cases actually came over and became slaves and still invented the first sport," said Derell Stinson, executive producer of the Too Black Too Fast exhibit.

"This traveling exhibit is an exhibit is a historical piece of art that really describes the history of thoroughbred racing as seen through the American jockey," said Christopher Norwood, Founder of the Historic Ward Rooming House Gallery.

The "Too Black Too Fast" project hopes to reclaim the history that was lost so many years ago.

"I think it will instill pride and make people who go to the races of African American decent feel better about it because our history is a part of it," added McBride.

The exhibit is open and will run until mid-February. You can also find pieces from the exhibit at the Pegasus World Cup in Hallandale. For more information head to