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Kentucky Derby Museum Celebrates Jockey Isaac Burns Murphy

Isaac Burns Murphy was known as the “Prince of Jockeys"—the Kentucky native and mounted three Kentucky Derby winners during his career.

Coinciding with Black History Month, the Kentucky Derby Museum is hosting an exhibit on Murphy's life.

The exhibit will focus on Murphy’s achievements and struggles, said Greg Keightley, a spokesman for the Kentucky Derby Museum.

"He just really overcame a lot in his life to become one of the renowned jockeys," Keightley said.

Using photographs, illustrations and texts, the exhibit of 25 didactic panels will also explore the significance of African Americans to the development of horse racing.

“We are extremely proud to help celebrate the deep history of African American riders in the Kentucky Derby through this exhibit,” Museum President Lynn Ashton said. “Murphy is a legendary figure in Thoroughbred circles, and his career and achievements are delightfully highlighted for a new generation.”

Murphy was also the first black jockey to enter the National Museum Racing Hall of Fame.

The event was inspired by a recent biography of Murphy titled “The Prince of Jockeys: The Life of Isaac Burns Murphy.” The author Pellom McDaniels, assistant professor of African American Studies at Emory University, will be attend the exhibit on Feb. 22 to discuss and autograph copies of his book.

You can find the exhibit on the 2nd floor of the Pollard Gallery. It runs until May 31.