“If you don’t dream it, it’s never going to happen,” Carmouche, 37, said. This will be his first appearance at the Kentucky Derby after several victories at other races in his 21-year career.
“I dreamed it. To be here at this point and how long it took and the hard work that I put in to get to this point… going to the Kentucky Derby, this is icing and everything on the cake.”
Carmouche follows Kevin Krigger in making a Kentucky Derby appearance as a Black jockey, though there’s a strong legacy of Black jockeys winning at the Derby. Oliver Lewis, a Black man, won the very first Derby in 1875.
According to the Courier-Journal, Black jockeys won 15 out of the first 28 Derby races. Issac Burns Murphy won three Derby races in eight years and is considered the greatest jockey in American history, setting win records in the late 1800s no jockey has beat yet.
Carmouche, a native of Louisiana, grew up around racing and is the son of a jockey, Sylvester Carmouche Jr. Kendrick started racing at the age of 16 in 2000. He told the outlet he hopes to inspire other jockeys.
“You have to polish yourself. You have to ride smart. You have to do all the correct things and grind it out until that happens,” he said. “This is where I want to be.”
The Kentucky Derby is scheduled to take place this Saturday (May 1) after last year’s race was delayed several months amid the coronavirus pandemic.
This year will mark the 147th Derby race.
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