Monday, June 3, 2019

The First Three-Time Derby Winner

From OZY:
Most jockeys dug into their mounts with a whip and a crouched, bullying stance, but the teen Murphy rode crouched and urged his charge forward with calming words. As others galloped ahead, he conserved his horse’s stamina, only to press forward at the end of races to snatch victory over his competitors’ worn steeds.

The unconventional tactics led to victory. He would win the Kentucky Derby for the first time in 1884, and the Kentucky Oaks and the Clark Handicap that same year — a trifecta he’s still the sole jockey to accomplish. According to his own analysis, Murphy won 628 of his 1,412 starts, an absurd 44 percent victory rate (another calculation, conducted later, had him at 530 of 1,538, a 34 percent rate that still dwarfs the greatest all-time official tallies in horse-racing record books). He became known as “The Colored Archer,” a reference to the English racing great Fred Archer, although, ironically, it was Archer who was taking after Murphy. “Archer picked a lot of his mannerisms in the saddle and spread them throughout England,” says Brien Bouyea, communications director for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. (Read more.)

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