San Francisco, California
At the age of four or five years old, Kevin Krigger used parked cars to climb onto the back of a horse. The son of Albert Krigger and Averil Simmonds, Krigger was born in a rural area of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands where his love of horses was nurtured. By age ten, he had his own horse, Dandella, on which he often won races on the beach.1
Krigger gravitated to the Randall “Doc” James racecourse on the island and learned the trade from jockey Julio Felix. At seventeen, Krigger followed Felix to the United States mainland in 2001, where he honed his skills as an apprentice jockey.
That season, Krigger won fifty races at Thistledown Racecourse near Cleveland, three at Mountaineer Park in West Virginia, and twelve races in three weeks at Golden Gate Fields near San Francisco. 2
He moved to Ohio and won 126 races and gained the title of Leading Rider in 2005. On December 19, 2007, in the ninth race at Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky, Krigger went down in a spill. His mount, Polar Vixen, clipped heels out of the starting gate, throwing Krigger and eventually falling on top of him.3
He suffered three fractured vertebrae in his neck but tried to ride again after only three months of recovery. His neck healed incorrectly, and his winning percentage fell. He had surgery in 2010 and returned to racing in 2011.4
Winning Streak Begins
Krigger finally began winning consistently again at Emerald Downs near Seattle, Washington. He then returned to Golden Gate in California and won twelve stakes races. 5
At Golden Gate, he worked with trainer Doug O’Neill, who had won the 2012 Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another. In 2013, O’Neill chose Krigger to ride Goldencents in the Santa Anita Derby. Krigger won and became the first Black jockey to win that Grade 1 Stakes in its seventy-eight-year history.
Next up: the 2013 Kentucky Derby, the first jewel in the Triple Crown.
Race for the Triple Crown
Krigger was the first Black jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby since Marlon St. Julien rode in 2000. No Black jockey had won the Derby since Jimmy Winkfield who won in 1901 and 1902. Expectations were high and Goldencents was a favorite. But they finished 17th on a muddy track.6
At the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel in the Triple Crown, they finished fifth.
After coming in second in two races in California Krigger was replaced as Goldencents’ jockey. The horse went on to win the 2013 and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, a $1 million race. Krigger however, faded from the scene. Old and new spinal and neck injuries became an issue leading him to retire to St. Croix in 2014.7
But he couldn’t stay away from horse racing.
Krigger returned to racing in 2017. On August 24, 2019, Krigger gained his 1,000th victory aboard I Double Dare You in race five at Emerald Downs. He won four races that day.8
In 2020, his lifetime wins reached 1,043 and his earnings were more than $20 million.9 Kevin comments on his winning, “I’m ecstatic about coming back.”
African American Jockey Aims for Derby History. 2013. Associated Press. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC06jFH3rT4.
Auburn Reporter. 2019. “Krigger Bags Four Wins, Including No. 1,000,” August 26, 2019, sec. Sports. https://www.auburn-reporter.com/sports/krigger-bags-four-wins-including-no-1000/.
“Blogspot Snapshot.” n.d. Accessed October 26, 2020. http://fiveminutestopost.blogspot.com/2014/04/kevin-kriggerit-was-only-year-ago.html.
BloodHorse.Com. 2013. “Krigger: Preakness Dreams and Racing History,” May 14, 2013. https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/121062/krigger-preakness-dreams-and-racing-history.
———. 2019. “Krigger’s 1,000th Career Victory Tops Four-Win Night,” August 25, 2019. https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/235409/kriggers-1-000th-career-victory-tops-four-win-night.
Bossert, Jerry. 2013. “Jockey Kevin Krigger Hopes to Become First African-American to Win Kentucky Derby since 1902.” Nydailynews.Com, April 27, 2013, sec. Sports. https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/kentucky-derby-jockey-krigger-seeks-historical-article-1.1329082.
“Jockey Kevin Krigger Nears Return to Riding.” 2017. The Racing Biz. January 5, 2017. https://www.theracingbiz.com/2017/01/05/jockey-kevin-krigger-nears-return-riding/.
“Jockey Profile: Kevin Krigger.” n.d. Equibase. Accessed October 12, 2020. https://www.equibase.com/profiles/Results.cfm?type=People&searchType=J&eID=96905&rbt=TB.
“Kevin Krigger - Jockey.” n.d. HorseRacingNation.Com. Accessed October 12, 2020. https://www.horseracingnation.com/person/Kevin_Krigger#.
Pajak, Steve. 2017. “He’s Raced in the Kentucky Derby. See Where This Jockey Is Making His Comeback.” The Sacramento Bee, July 23, 2017, sec. Sports. https://www.sacbee.com/sports/article163140198.html.
Schoch, Matt. 2016. “Jockey Krigger Reflective at Kentucky Derby Time.” The Virgin Islands Daily News, May 6, 2016. http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/sports/jockey-krigger-reflective-at-kentucky-derby-time/article_3158a60b-f400-52d0-a61a-fe3e51eb9b9c.html.
Stumes, Larry. 2001. “Profile: Kevin Krigger, His Home Away from Home, Teenage
Jockey Adjusting Nicely to Major Racing.” San Francisco Chronicle, December 26, 2001, sec. Sports. https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/PROFILE-Kevin-Krigger-His-home-away-from-home-2834368.php.
Taylor, Erica. 2013. “Little Known Black History Fact: Kevin Krigger.” Black America Web. April 29, 2013. https://blackamericaweb.com/2013/04/29/little-known-black-history-fact-kevin-krigger/.
Voss, Natalie. 2017. “Lost And Found Presented By Horseware: Former Jockey Kevin Krigger Mulls Comeback.” Horse Racing News. Paulick Report. April 14, 2017. https://www.paulickreport.com/features/lost-and-found/former-jockey-kevin-krigger-mulls-comeback/.
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.
- 1Hoppert, “History Aside, Jockey Kevin Krigger Is Just Out to Win.”
- 2Hoppert, “History Aside, Jockey Kevin Krigger Is Just Out to Win.”
- 3Bossert, “Jockey Kevin Krigger Hopes to Become First African-American to Win Kentucky Derby since 1902.”
- 4“Little Known Black History Fact.”
- 5Hoppert, “History Aside, Jockey Kevin Krigger Is Just Out to Win.”
- 6“Jockey Kevin Krigger Nears Return to Riding.”
- 7Pajak, “He’s Raced in the Kentucky Derby. See Where This Jockey Is Making His Comeback.”
- 8“Krigger Bags Four Wins, Including No. 1,000.”
- 9“Jockey Profile: Kevin Krigger.”