Inaugural 'Jimmy Winkfield Stakes' at Aqueduct on MLK Day

The New York Racing Association will conduct the first ever Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 17.

The $75,000-added race for 3-year-olds is named for legendary African-American jockey Jimmy Winkfield, who won back-to-back runnings of the Kentucky Derby at the turn of the 20th Century. The establishment of the race coincides with the release of author Ed Hotaling' s biography, "Wink: The Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield" (McGraw-Hill; November, 2004).

New York Times sports writer Joe Drape traveled to a half-dozen counties researching his upcoming biography on Winkfield called "Black Maestro: Jimmy Winkfield, an American-Russian Legend" (HarperCollins; early 2006).

Born in 1880 in Kentucky, Winkfield rose from shoeshine boy, to stable hand, to exercise rider and became one of America's top jockeys. Winkfield relocated to Czarist Russia where he became the top athlete in the country's only national sport, married an heiress and became quite wealthy.

Winkfield escaped the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, settled in France and befriended the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Josephine Baker. In the 1940s, while a Thoroughbred trainer, Winkfield escaped oppression again, this time fleeing the Nazi occupation Nazis and returning to the United States.

He arrived in New York with $9 in his pocket and eked out a living operating a jackhammer in a WPA road construction project in Queens.

He died outside Paris at the age of 94.

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