Edward Dudley Brown
Childhood in Stables
Edward Dudley Brown was born enslaved in Fayette County, Kentucky. At the age of seven, he was sold in a Lexington Courthouse auction to R. A. Alexander who trained him as a horseman. Alexander owned the Woodburn Stud farm, located in Woodford County in the community known as Spring Station.1
Brown began as a stablehand before becoming a jockey for Alexander from 1864 to 1867. Ansel Williamson trained Brown.2 Brown rode the undefeated Asteroid and other Woodburn Thoroughbreds in his wins.3 His most notable wins came in 1870 aboard Kingfisher, trained by fellow African American horseman Raleigh Colston, Sr. Together, they won the 1870 Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes and Champion Stakes.4
Thoroughbred Training Career
Brown left to work with Woodburn Stud’s former manager, Daniel Swigert.5 With Brown’s maturity into manhood, he had become too heavy to be a jockey on the flat courses. He briefly switched to steeplechase before trying his hand at training Thoroughbreds.6 Brown found his greatest fortune as a trainer. In 1875, he won the Kentucky St. Leger with King Alfonso and then in 1877, the Kentucky Derby with Baden Baden.7 Throughout the 1880s, his training services were in high demand. He worked for horse owners including:
- Milton Young
- R. C. Pate
- Eugene Leigh
- Dr. J. D. Noet8
His winning streak continued. In the year 1881 alone, he earned 53 documented wins with various Thoroughbreds.
Family and Home Life
Brown married Lucy Alexander Gaines who had also grown up at Spring Station and they became parents of one son, Lee Lovelle.9 They purchased a brick home that still stands at 140 Eastern Avenue in downtown Lexington.11 It is located near the original grounds of the Kentucky Association track where Brown stabled and trained Thoroughbreds. Brown later relocated to Louisville where he continued operating a stable of his own while he also trained for others.12
Freedom, Ownership, and Leadership
Brown’s achievements as a trainer allowed him the freedom to strike out on his own in 1896. After emancipation from enslavement, he became a wealthy horseman, known to carry a bankroll of $75,000.13 With this wealth he established his own stable and continued his success as an owner and as a trainer. He won the 1896 Kentucky Derby with Ben Brush and then the 1898 Kentucky Derby with Plaudit. Overall, his career includes at least eighteen identified Stakes, Cups and Derby wins at tracks from New York to Missouri. He was asked to preside over a trust which oversaw African American jockeys.14
Toward the end of his life, Brown’s health suffered. In 1906, he became bedridden with pneumonia but survived.15 He contracted pulmonary tuberculosis two months later and died. The Midway Pilgrim Baptist Church in Woodford County, Kentucky hosted his funeral.16 In 1984, Brown was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame for his notable achievements as a trainer.17 He has been called “one of the top trainers of the 19th century” and “the most noted colored trainer ever known to American turf.”18
“1910 United States Federal Census.” 1910. Census. Jefferson County, Kentucky: US Census Bureau.
“Brown, Edward D. ‘Brown Dick.’” n.d. In Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. Accessed October 3, 2019. https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/661.
“Edward D. Brown.” n.d. National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Accessed February 16, 2016. www.racingmuseum.org/hall-of-fame/edward-d-brown.
“Fayette County Deed Book 71.” 1884. Fayette County, Kentucky: Fayette County Clerk.
International Museum of the Horse. 2018. Black Horsemen of the Kentucky Turf: Companion Book to the Exhibit at the International Museum of the Horse. First. Kentucky Horse Park.
Lexington Leader. 1891. “A Colored Party,” February 1, 1891.
———. 1892, January 19, 1892.
Talbott, Tim. n.d. “Edward Dudley Brown.” ExploreKYHistory. Accessed February 17, 2020. https://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/271?tour=9&index=33.
The Daily Racing Form. 1906. “‘Brown Dick’ Is Dangerously Ill,” March 3, 1906. The Daily Racing Form Archive. University of Kentucky Libraries. https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1900s/drf1906030401/drf1906030401_1_4.
The New York Sun. 1906. “Noted Trainer Dead: Brown Dick, A Colored Man Who Was Supposed To Head The Jockey Trust,” May 12, 1906.
Woodford County Clerk. 1878. “Marriage Record of Edward Dudley Brown and Lucy Alexander Gaines.” Book 3, 211. Colored Marriage Records.
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.
- 1Woodford County Clerk, “Marriage Record of Edward Dudley Brown and Lucy Alexander Gaines.”
- 2“1910 United States Federal Census.”
- 3“‘Brown Dick’ Is Dangerously Ill.”
- 4“Brown, Edward D. ‘Brown Dick.’”
- 5Talbott, “Edward Dudley Brown.”
- 6NMRHF, “Edward D. Brown.”
- 7“Brown, Edward D. ‘Brown Dick.’”
- 8“‘Brown Dick’ Is Dangerously Ill.”
- 9Woodford County Clerk, “Marriage Record of Edward Dudley Brown and Lucy Alexander Gaines.”
- 11“Fayette County Deed Book 71.”
- 12“(No Title).”
- 13“NMRHF, ‘Edward D. Brown.’”
- 14“Noted Trainer Dead: Brown Dick, A Colored Man Who Was Supposed To Head The Jockey Trust.”
- 15“‘Brown Dick’ Is Dangerously Ill.”
- 16Talbott, “Edward Dudley Brown.”
- 17“NMRHF, ‘Edward D. Brown.’”
- 18“Noted Trainer Dead: Brown Dick, A Colored Man Who Was Supposed To Head The Jockey Trust.”