Willie Simms, winner of all Triple Crown horse races

Willie Simms
Sun, 1870-01-16

Willie Simms was born on this date in 1870. He was an African American horse jockey.

Born near Augusta, GA, Simms began racing in 1887, and was one of the most successful to use the short stirrup that gave the rider a crouching posture. En route to winning the United States riding title in 1893 and 1894, Simms won back-to-back Belmont Stakes. The following year, he raced in England where he became the first American jockey to win with an American horse in that country. In America, Simms won the 1896 Kentucky Derby in its first time as a one and a quarter mile race.

He repeated as the Derby winner in 1898, and went on to take the Preakness Stakes a few weeks later, making him the only African American jockey to win all of the Triple Crown races. During a brilliant 14-year career, Simms rode some of the great thoroughbred racehorses of the day such as two-time Horse of the Year winner, Henry of Navarre.

He finished his riding career with 1,125 wins and in 1977 was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He was national riding champion in 1893 and 1894. Willie Simms died died February 26, 1927 in Asbury, New Jersey.

Churchill Downs
700 Central Avenue
Louisville, KY 40208
502 636 4400

Person / name: 

Simms, Willie