Oliver Lewis (1856–1924) was an American jockey in Thoroughbred horse racing. On May 17, 1875, Lewis won the very first Kentucky Derby aboard Aristides. The pair won by a reported two lengths, setting a new American record time for a mile-and-a-half race. Lewis and Aristides took second place in the Belmont Stakes, which is now the third race of the U.S. Triple Crown series.[1][2][3]

Oliver Lewis, winning jockey of the first Kentucky Derby
Occupation Jockey
Born 1856
Fayette County, Kentucky
Died 1924
Lexington, Kentucky
Resting place African Cemetery No. 2 (Lexington, Kentucky)
Major racing wins
American Classics wins:
Kentucky Derby (1875)
Oliver Lewis Way, Lexington, Kentucky
Significant horses


Jockey Oliver Lewis riding Aristides to victory in inaugural Kentucky Derby, May 17, 1875.

Lewis was born in Fayette County, Kentucky, in 1856. After he died in 1924, he was buried in Benevolent Society No. 2 Cemetery, now known as African Cemetery No. 2.[4][5]

On September 8, 2010, the Newtown Pike Extension in Lexington, Kentucky, was named Oliver Lewis Way in honor of Lewis’s historic accomplishments.[6]


  1. ^ “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys – African American jockeys once dominated the track.” Smithsonian Institution. 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  2. ^ “Jockeys, Kentucky Derby (1875-2017)” (PDF). Churchill Downs Incorporated. 2018-01-01. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  3. ^ “Eight Acres of History: Lexington’s African Cemetery No. 2”YouTube. Lexington Public Library. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  4. ^ “Oliver Lewis.” ky.gov. Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  5. ^ “African Cemetery No. 2”africancemeteryno2.org. African Cemetery No. 2 Inc. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  6. ^ “What you may not know about Lexington’s newest road.” Lexington Herald-Leader. 2017-09-27. Retrieved 2018-11-01.

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