Jockeys are some of the most overlooked athletes in sports. After all, it’s hard to stand out with teammates sporting names like I’ll Have Another, Mind That Bird and Seattle Slew. But while every running of the Kentucky Derby is assured a place in the history books, this year, there’s one jockey who could steal the show.
Kevin Krigger is a 29-year-old derby rookie and the rider of Goldencents — a favorite in this year’s race. In many ways, he’s the most obscure part of the thoroughbred’s impressive entourage, which includes Doug O’Neill, trainer of last year’s winner I’ll Have Another, as well as recent NCAA Basketball championship-winning coach Rick Pitino, who holds a 5% stake in the horse. As a native of St. Croix, though, Krigger will share the honor of being the first Virgin Islander to compete in the race. More importantly to some, he’s also the first black jockey to compete in the event since 2000 — and he has a chance to be the first black rider to win the Derby since 1902.
You won’t find the weight of cultural and racial precedents sitting as a chip on Krigger’s petite shoulders, though. He’s focused on the race, not his race. As he said to the Boston Globe, “I want to win the Derby because that’s something that I want to do. Being African-American is just a part of it.”
The inspiring Jockey was kind enough to chat with us about representing St. Croix, family and his relationship with Goldencents amidst his packed Derby media schedule. Check out our entire conversation below.
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It is the best relationship I’ve had with a horse. When I arrive in the morning to see him, he’s happy to see me, and me him.
This interview was made possible by the team at America’s Best Racing, The best online resource for all things horse racing.
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