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Person Profile


Maryland; Louisville, Kentucky

Emily Libecap, Graduate Student Intern

Childhood and Family

Researchers are seeking more information about Cato’s origins, his parents, and his own family. He was an enslaved person and became free around 1839.1

Historical Victory

Cato was an important rider in a legendary race. The race took place at the Oakland Race Course in Louisville, Kentucky, on September 30, 1839. Two horses faced off in an anticipated match between rivals: Wagner, owned by John Campbell of Maryland, and Grey Eagle, owned by A. L. Shotwell, of Kentucky.2 Cato rode Wagner to victory in both heats.3


Though so little is known about Cato and his life, he remains part of a larger legacy of skilled African American horsemen who shaped the racing world.


American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine (1829-1844). 1840. “Wagner and Grey Eagle’s Races at Louisville, Kentucky,” March 1840.

Cato (Slave Jockey) [Grey Eagle v Wagner].” 2018. In Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/2105.

Davis, John H. 1906. The American Turf. New York, NY: J. Polhemus Printing Company.


When citing this article as a source in Chicago Manual of Style use this format: Last name, first name of Author. Chronicle of African Americans in the Horse Industry. n.d. “Title of Profile or Story.” International Museum of the Horse. Accessed date. URL of page cited.

  • 1“Wagner and Grey Eagle’s Races at Louisville, Kentucky.”
  • 2Davis, The American Turf.
  • 3“Cato (Slave Jockey) [Grey Eagle v Wagner].”

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