Aiken’s African-American Contributions to the Aiken Horse Industry

This exhibit celebrates the contributions made by Aiken’s African-American Community to the local equine industry. The exhibit highlights the careers of Wilbert “Boots” Breland, who was a rider for Mrs. Ambrose Clark in the 1940’s, Charlie Carter, a long time groom for Greentree Stable, Jimmy “Wink” Winkfield who worked for Pete Bostwick and was the last African-American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby (1902), James “Pockets” Carter, who was a long time groom at the Aiken Training Track and now operates the Track Kitchen and other unsung heroes from Aiken.  The exhibit is located on the second floor of the Hall of Fame.

The accomplishments of African-American horsemen in the early years of the sport are often forgotten, but in the years between the Civil War and the turn of the century, they were very influential. In the first Kentucky Derby Aristides was trained by African-American Ansel Williamson and guided to victory by Oliver Lewis, one of 15 black jockeys in that race. Over all, 15 of the first 28 Kentucky Derbys were won by black jockeys and 5 were trained by black trainers.

After the turn of the century, racing started to be a higher profile sport, and blacks were mostly seen only as stable help. The last black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, Jimmy Winkfield who won in both 1901 and 1902, left the US for Europe and a lucrative racing career where it is rumoured he even rode for the Czar of Russia. He became fluent in several languages before he retired with over 2300 winners to his credit.

Most famous of the black jockeys by far is Isaac Murphy who is considered one of the greatest riders in American history. He was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbys and won an astonishing 44% of all races he rode. That record has not been approached by any other jockey since. He was the first jockey to be inducted into the Jockey Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Racing. Sadly, his career was cut short at the age of 34 when he died of pneumonia. He is buried next to Man O' War in the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. 

In recent years, African-Americans have started coming back into the mainstream of racing. MC Hammer had the successful Oaktown Stable which raced the excellent filly Lite Light, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and other prestigious races. Barry Gordy of Motown fame has also had some success with his horses. More recently, the young jockey Marlon St. Julien became the first African-American jockey to first African-American jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby in 79 years, when he rode Curule to a seventh-place finish in 2000.




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Visitor Information

Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum
"Home of Aiken's Racing Champions"
Information: 803-642-7631
[email protected]
Located in Hopelands Gardens at 135 Dupree Place (off Whiskey Road) Aiken, SC 29801
Barbara Jean Fuel began working at the Aiken Training Track around 1980 as a hot walker.  She first worked for Virgil “Buddy” Raines who trained Open Fire, the 1966 American Champion Handicap Female.  She worked for several other outfits including Buckland Farm and Greentree Stable.
Wilbert “Boots” Breland started his career in 1929 working with polo ponies, show horses and hunters. Breland rode for Mrs. F. Ambrose Clark.
Charlie Carter was one of Aiken’s best known groomsmen.  He worked with Greentree Stable from 1955 - 1973.  Carter is shown with with Stage Door Johnny the winner of the 1968 Belmont Stakes.
James Gordon, Jr., holding the reins of Blasting Charge who was owned by John M. Schiff and trained by Flint S. “Scotty” Schulhoffer.  He worked as a groom  in the 1940’s through the 1960’s. He was working at the Aiken Training Track soon after the track opening for business in 1942.
Jimmy Winkfield was born in Kentucky. He rose to fame by winning back-to-back editions of the Kentucky Derby with His Eminence in 1901 and Alan-a-Dale in 1902. Winkfield remains the last African-American to win the Run for the Roses.  He briefly worked in Aiken for G.H. "Pete" Bostwick.
John Henry Winfield was a groom in Aiken for over 40 years.  After 
graduating from high school he began as a hot walker and then as a groom at the Aiken Training Track.  He has worked at Saratoga, Aqueduct and Churchill Downs.  He was a groom for trainers Robert M. “Bobby” Dotter and Tommy Gullo.
John Robert "Tweet”, Corey is an Aiken native.He started working as a groom in 1957 following in the footsteps of his father, Phillip and uncles - George Corley and Mattison Winfield. He worked with his father for trainers Billy Post and Jim Maloney, but worked the longest for E. Barry Ryan.
Winfield was a groom in Aiken for over 57 years.  He worked for William Post, Clyde Troutt, Frank Catrone, Bobby Dotter, Ron Stevens,Cragwood Stable, Greentree Stable and Dogwood Stable.  He trained his son, John Henry Winfield, in the finer points of being a groom.
Peter Green, an Aiken Native, started his career as an exercise boy then as a groom and then as a foreman.  He was the trainer for Thomas Hitchcock's Broad Hollow Stables and his steeplechase horses. He trained for Hitchcock for 50 years.
Roy Williams has been working with horses for over 25 years.  His brother got him interested in in the business.  He first started out as a hot walker and then became a groom.  He worked at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.  He worked for trainers, Mack Miller and W.C. “Mike” Freeman.
James “Pockets” Carter was born in Camden, South Carolina.  Pockets moved to Aiken after marrying Carol Sapp.  Pockets worked as an exercise rider for John H. Clark and later as a groom for trainer, MacKenzie Miller.  Carter and his wife, Carol took over management of the Track Kitchen in 1980.
The exhibit is currently on display in the second floor of the Hall of Fame.