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Willie Simms was born on this date in 1870. He was a Black 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 for its first time as a one-and-a-quarter-mile race.
He repeated as the Derby winner in 1898 and took the Preakness Stakes a few weeks later, making him the only Black 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 the national riding champion in 1893 and 1894. Willie Simms died February 26, 1927, in Asbury, New Jersey.