(Edited press release)
DeShawn Parker, the winningest African-American jockey in Thoroughbred history, reached a career milestone the night of Aug. 17 when he scored the 3,000th victory of his career. Parker won the first race at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort, rallying Wildcat Cat to a narrow victory in a 4 1/2-furlong dash on the turf.
Parker is just the 150th jockey to win 3,000 races. The feat was celebrated in Mountaineer's winner circle with the track's jockey colony and valets surrounding Parker for a photo.
"I'm on top of the world," said Parker. "It's a load off my chest. I thought I would get my 3,000th Sunday night, but as hard as I tried, I just couldn't get to the winner's circle."
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio Parker, 38, is the son of veteran racing official Daryl Parker, currently a steward at Pinnacle Race Course in New Boston, Mich.
In 1998 the elder Parker, the first African-American steward in racing history when appointed to the stand at Thistledown in 1986, put down his binoculars and left his post at the suburban Cleveland track. The occasion was a race in which his son would register his first victory.
Parker, 38, currently ranks fifth in North America this year with 185 victories. He was second among all riders in 2008, winning 333 races.
"I've been around horse racing for 30 years and I've never seen a person with as much class as DeShawn," said Billy Johnson, Parker's agent for the last eight years. "He's very disciplined in his preparation. His family and racing means everything to him."
Parker, one of the tallest jockeys at 5’ 10”, weighs just 113 pounds.
It's believed that Parker has been the leading African-American rider since he notched his 2,000th victory in the summer of 2005. Until then, the top black rider was Marlon St. Julien who is currently closing in on his 2,000th triumph.
Parker lives in East Liverpool, Ohio with wife Maria and sons DeShawn Jr. and Justus.