Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton became a star in the horseracing world when he became the youngest person to win the Kentucky Derby.
Clayton was born March 27, 1876 in Kansas City, Mo. As a boy, his family relocated to North Little Rock, Ark., where he then changed course by running away to Chicago at 12 years of age. While in the Windy City, Clayton took up horse riding following in his older brother’s footsteps. He eventually earned the right to begin racing horses.
On May 11, 1892, Clayton rode the horse Azra and took the victory in the Kentucky Derby at just 15 years old. Riding the same horse, Clayton also won the Clark Handicap, the Travers Stakes, and other notable races. By 1900, Clayton’s career was all but done as racism forced Black jockeys, who had dominated the sport for centuries out of horse racing altogether. Despite being instrumental in the development of thoroughbred horse racing, the last African-American jockey to win a major thoroughbred horse race was in 1909.
Clayton attempted a comeback in 1904 but a scandal involving race fixing ended his career.
Clayton moved to Little Rock, Ark., and purchased the Engelberger House, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Clayton passed in 1917 at the age of 40.
PHOTO: Public Domain
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