Black History Spotlight: Oliver Lewis

Black History Spotlight: Oliver Lewis

(KFVS) - February is Black History Month, and in the spotlight for February 9, 2016 is Oliver Lewis (1856-1924), the first winner of the Kentucky Derby.

Lewis was only 19 when he entered the first Kentucky Derby at what is now known as Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky on May 17, 1875.

Lewis rode the colt Aristides, who was not favored to win the $2,850 purse.

His trainer told him to lead most of the race to tire out the other horses, so another colt entered by the same owner could win.

Ten thousand spectators watched Lewis ride Aristides push most of the 15 other horses in the field, trailing a horse named Volcano.

In the last stretch, Aristides and Volcano were neck and neck for first place.

Lewis and Aristides pulled away near the finish line and won the race by two lengths.

Aristides is now memorialized in a special part of Churchill Downs called Aristides' Garden near the paddock where jockeys mount their horses before each race.

Later that season, Lewis and Aristides came in second in the Belmont Stakes in New York, and won three more races at the track in Louisville before retiring.

Later in life Lewis became a bookie, which was legal in Kentucky at that time.

He died in Lexington, Kentucky in 1924 at the age of 68.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved.