Kendrick Carmouche is making history!
This Sunday at the Churchill Downs racecourse, the 37-year-old will become the first Black jockey to compete at the Kentucky Derby since Kevin Krigger in 2013.
“As a Black rider getting to the Kentucky Derby, I hope it inspires a lot of people because my road wasn’t easy to get there and I never quit,” Carmouche told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
“What I’ve been wanting all my career is to inspire people and make people know that it’s not about color. It’s about how successful you are in life and how far you can fight to get to that point,” he added.
Per the outlet, Carmouche is one of only a handful of Black jockeys in the sport today.
At the iconic Louisville event, Carmouche — the son of legendary jockey Sylvester Carmouche — will be riding Bourbonic, a brown colt trained by Todd A. Pletcher, and will start from the 20th post in the race.
While speaking to the New York Times on Wednesday, Carmouche honored his father, who won nearly 700 races at big-time tracks like the Fairgrounds in New Orleans and Louisiana Downs near Shreveport.
“Look, I’m 37 years old and I’ve covered a lot of pavement, put in a lot of hard work and stayed positive through hard times,” he said. “I learned all that from my Pops.”
Back in 1875, Black jockey Oliver Lewis won the first Kentucky Derby while riding Aristides, trained by Ansel Williamson.
Between 1875 and 1902, 15 editions of the Derby were won by a Black jockey.
If Carmouche places first on Sunday, he will become the first Black jockey in 119 years to win the big prize since Jimmy Winkfield in 1902.
“All I’ve ever wanted is opportunity,” Carmouche told the Times. “I’ve earned it everywhere I’ve ridden. Now I have an opportunity to bring home those roses. I wouldn’t count me out.”
He also told the AP, “From my perspective, if I win this race, man, it would touch a lot of people. A lot of people will be crying, a lot of people will be happy and a lot of happy tears.”