10 Facts About Isaac Burns Murphy

Isaac Burns Murphy Portrait

1. Isaac Burns Murphy is considered the greatest Jockey of all time. He won over 44% (628 of 1,412) of his races which is a record that most experts agree will never be broken.

Isaac Burns Murphy on Horseback

Isaac Burns Murphy on Horseback

2. Isaac Burns Murphy was actually born Isaac Burns and changed his last name to Murphy to honor his Grandfather when he became a jockey at the age of 14.

3. Mr. Murphy was the jockey when “Kingman” won the Kentucky Derby. To date, this is the only horse owned by an African American, Dudley Allen, to win the Kentucky Derby.

4. Isaac Burns Murphy was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbys and was the only jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks, Kentucky Derby, and the Clark Handicap all in the same year. This amazing feat was accomplished in 1884.

Isaac Burns Murphy by Gerald Ivey

Isaac Burns Murphy by Gerald Ivey

5. He was the first jockey inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, NY. He is also one of only two African American jockeys to have received this honor.

6. Isaac Burns Murphy died of Pneumonia in 1896 at the young age of 36 years old after an extended battle with alcohol abuse and weight gain that forced him into retirement.

7. The Isaac Murphy Award is given every year to the jockey that has the highest winning percentage by the National Turf Writers Association and the American Derby was renamed the Isaac Murphy Stakes (Chicago, IL) in 1997.

8. Isaac Murphy’s distinguished record includes three Kentucky Derby wins, four American Derby wins, and five Latonia Derby wins.

9. Many do not know that Isaac was respected as much for his integrity as his skill on horseback. He refused to let any gamblers bribe him to lose a race and always rode to win.

10. Isaac Burns Murphy was a real estate investor and one of the first African Americans to own a racehorse.

View this print in our: Gerald Ivey Art Gallery

  • Whitney

    The picture you show of Isaac Muphy on horseback is not Isaac Murphy. The rider is another famous jockey, Jimmy Winkfield, and the horse is Alan-a-Dale. If you Google Jimmy Winkfield, you will see that photo. The photo was also used on the cover of Mr
    Winkfield’s biography, Wink.