Monday, February 4, 2013


I stumbled upon this beautiful picture book by Crystal Hubbard as I was browsing my library. I was awestruck when I found this dynamic story- the story of Jimmy Winkfield. I had never before heard about this pioneer in Black History, although I have horse jockeys and race horse owners in my family.

The Last Black King of the Kentucky Derby, guides readers through the details of Jimmy Winkfield's life as he became one of the best horse jockeys in the world. Known by some as "Wink", Jimmy Winkfield is a two time winner of the famous the Kentucky Derby of 1900 and 1901.

Winkfield's life is chronicled in this captivating story showing the determination of a young boy growing up in segregated Kentucky in the late 1880's. Throughout the day Jimmy works alongside his parents and 16 brothers and sisters as sharecroppers, but his true love is riding horses. The author describes Jimmy as being "captivated by the big powerful animals" (Hubbard, 2008, p. 1), which is illustrated so well in the pictures. Wink gets his break in horse racing when an owner who could not afford an experienced jockey asks him to ride. It is this race that sets the precedent for the type of jockey Jimmy is. Despite receiving a year suspension, Jimmy Winkfield  continued to train becoming one of the most sought after jockeys. 

Jimmy encountered racism, suspensions, and conflicts during his years on the track, but he continued to race and love horses. After losing in the 1902 Kentucky Derby,  Jimmy "Wink" Winkfield moved to Europe, racing for Russian czars, Polish princes and German barons. He died at the age of 91.

This is a must read for historyand horse lovers alike.

Mrs. Roane
Mooneyham Elementary Librarian

Picture retrieved from FISD HIP

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