Jockeying Into Position: Race, Ethnicity, and the Rise of the Latino Jockey in the American South, XX-XXI Centuries


Mellon/ACLS Scholars and Society Fellowships




Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum


Horse racing, one of the oldest and most celebrated sports in America, is embedded in Southern culture and identity. Journalists repeatedly refer to the premier horse racing event, the Kentucky Derby, as “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” Yet what transpires in those two minutes reflects decades-long changes that have redefined social and racial hierarchies in the sport and in American society. The majority of the successful jockeys in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are Latino. The Aiken Training Track, founded in 1941 and located in Aiken, SC, is a premier training center, especially for young horses. Boasting slogans such as “Train Here, Win Anywhere,” link Aiken to nationally competitive race horses such as Forty-Niner and Palace Malice. In partnership with Lisa Hall, curator and director of the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum in Aiken, South Carolina, the exhibit will historicize the role of the Latino jockey as well as render visible the place of Latinos in a rural southern community. This case study will illuminate the experience of the growing Latino population through the exhibit’s central themes of race, immigration, and power in the U.S. Horse racing is a useful site of analysis not only because a high number of Latinos work in the equine industry but also because it is a profession in which Latinos have experienced success at the highest echelons of the sport. The project’s use of sports as a source, and plans for broadly disseminating results, are avenues for encouraging and supporting diverse career pathways for PhDs within and outside the academy.