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Person Profile

Raleigh Colston, Jr.

Woodford County, Mercer County, Kentucky; Chicago, Illinois; Louisville, Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky

Emily Libecap, Graduate Student Intern

Childhood and Family

Raleigh Colston, Jr. was born to Raleigh Colston, Sr. and Bettie Colston in Woodford County, Kentucky. Colston Jr. was born into a family of enslaved horsemen. His father was a jockey, trainer, and owner, as were his uncles and brother. As a young boy, Colston Jr. groomed Leonatus, a horse his father trained. Leonatus was famous for his unbeaten record as a three-year-old.1

Career as a Jockey

Colston began his career as a jockey in the early 1870s. During this time, he was working as an exercise rider for General James Robinson, president of the Kentucky Racing Association. His first recorded race was the Phoenix Hotel Stakes aboard the horse Millionaire, against the horse Ten Broeck. Though he did not win, his next race four days later was successful.

Colston rode the horse Bob Wooley to victory against the horse Emma C. In another race a short time later, Colston, aboard Searcher, set a new fastest mile record at 1 minute and 41.25 seconds.2   

At age 13, Colston rode Searcher in the 1875 Kentucky Derby. They finished in ninth place.

Career as a Trainer

Colston was most known for his career as a trainer, and later, as an owner. He trained horses for the Chinn and Morgan stable. These horses included Lissak, who won the 1894 World’s Fair Stakes, and Ban Fox, who, according to Colston was “the first good horse” he ever trained.3   

In 1901, Colston began working for the Chinn and Forsythe stable.4  There, he trained High Chancellor, Fountainbleu, and Rebus. Colston also trained horses for W. F. Schulte in Louisville and Will Perkins at the Kentucky Association track in Lexington. By 1909 Colston ranked eighth among top trainers in the United States with a total of 51 wins and earnings of $49,080.5

Career as an Owner

Colston entered his Thoroughbred, named Colston, in the 1911 Kentucky Derby. With African American jockey Jess Conley up, the pair took third place.


Raleigh Colston, Jr. passed away at age 66 in Lexington, Kentucky and was buried in Cove Haven Cemetery. His obituary described him as “an honorable man” who “had the respect and confidence of those who knew him.”6


“Conley, Jess.” n.d. In Notable Kentucky African Americans Database. University of Kentucky. Accessed February 17, 2020. https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/2383.

Daily Racing Form. 1908. “Most Skillful of Colored Trainers,” April 30, 1908. University of Kentucky Libraries. https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1900s/drf1908043001/drf1908043001_1_6.

———. 1928. “Noted Trainer Is Dead,” May 21, 1928. University of Kentucky Libraries. https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1920s/drf1928052101/drf1928052101_21_4.

Pettus, C.C. 1907. “A $30,000 Coup.” Washington Evening Star, June 9, 1907. Chronicling America. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1907-06-09/ed-1/seq-60/.

The San Francisco Call. 1910, January 5, 1910.

Thoroughbred Record. 1928. “Turf Notes,” May 19, 1928.

Yvonne Giles. 2019. “African American Horsemen in Kentucky 1825-1950.” In Tales from the Turf. Louisville, KY: J.B. Speed Art Museum.


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“Most Skillful of Colored Trainers.”
  • 2Pettus, “A $30,000 Coup.”
  • 3“Most Skillful of Colored Trainers.”
  • 4“Most Skillful of Colored Trainers.”
  • 5The San Francisco Call, January 5, 1910.
  • 6“Noted Trainer Is Dead.”