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Mon, 03.27.1876

A Kentucky Derby icon, Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton

Alonzo Clayton

*The birth of Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton in 1876 is celebrated on this date. He was an African American horse jockey.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1876, Clayton followed his brother into the riding profession. He launched his career on the track as an exerciser rider for E.J. "Lucky" Baldwin in Chicago during the summer of 1888. He stayed with Baldwin for about a year before moving on to work for D.A. Honig’s horses in Clifton, N.J. He rode a horse named Redstone in his first race in 1890 at the Clifton track, and earned his first career victory in 1891.

One year later he became the youngest jockey, at 15, to win the Kentucky Derby rallying Azra to an impressive nose victory in a three horse field. Clayton had four Derby mounts in his career with a victory, two seconds and a third, finishing in the money in all four of his Derby starts. Clayton guided Azra to victories in the Champagne Stakes, Clark Handicap and Travers. He also won the Kentucky Oaks twice as he rode Selika in 1894 and Voladora in 1895. Clayton also distinguished himself by capturing the 1893 Churchill Downs jockey crown during the fall meet.

He is only one of three African American jockeys to compete in the Preakness as he finished third in 1896. Alonzo Clayton’s died on March 17th 1917 from chronic pulmonary tuberculosis..

Churchill Downs
700 Central Avenue
Louisville, KY 40208
Phone: 502.636.4400

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