Though slavery had been abolished by the time the Kentucky Derby first ran, 13 of the 15 jockeys in the inaugural race in 1875 were African American, and African Americans won 15 of the first 28 runnings (of the Kentucky Derby).
As part of the 2022 Pegasus World Cup, Baccarat presents “Too Black Too Fast,” a curated art exhibition that celebrates the history and contribution of African American jockeys in Thoroughbred horse racing through visual art and portraiture. Leading up to the 2022 Pegasus World Cup and in advance of Black History Month, “Too Black Too Fast” will debut on Jan. 22 and run until mid-February 2022 at the Historic Ward Rooming House Gallery in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami. The exhibit will be available for public viewing every Thursday to Sunday from noon until 6:00 P.M. Admission is free. In addition, pieces from the exhibit will also be on display at Gulfstream Park during the Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 29.
With multimedia pieces from sculptor George Nock and visual artist Michael J. McBride, the exhibit tells the story of Black jockeys, who played an integral role in the history of Thoroughbred horse racing. More than 200 years before Jackie Robinson took to the baseball field, Black jockeys dominated the “Sport of Kings.” As enslaved men, they were the ones who knew the horses best, so they were the original trainers and jockeys.
“In advance of the Pegasus World Cup and Black History Month, we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Baccarat, the Historic Ward Rooming House in Overtown and “Too Black Too Fast” to commemorate, celebrate and share the important and often untold story of Black jockeys and their role in Thoroughbred horse racing,” said Jimmy Vargas, CEO, 1/ST EXPERIENCE.
“As a proud sponsor of the Pegasus World Cup, Baccarat is honored to partner with the Historic Ward Rooming House to present “Too Black Too Fast”. The exhibit is just one retrospective of the many untold stories of black excellence in America. The hardship and the courage of these black jockeys is unmeasurable. Even today, these jockeys hold records and set the standard for all jockeys in the industry, yet we don’t hear of their accomplishments. Baccarat is grateful to have the opportunity to help tell their story, as these athletes played an integral part in our history,” said Jim Shreve, Baccarat President and CEO of North America.
“American Sport has transformed the world in many ways, so it’s an honor to present an art exhibition that tells the story of the legacy of early American jockeys. It’s an honor to showcase amazing stories of unsung heroes, America’s first professional athletes. McBride’s, and Nock’s art is not just insightful aesthetically, but the research they performed to create these images must have been a labor of love,” said Chris Norwood of Hampton Art Lovers at the Historic Ward Rooming House Gallery.
“I am very honored to have my work featured as part of the Pegasus World Cup. Having an opportunity to present African American achievements in Thoroughbred horse racing is very important to me. This is an opportunity for the world to see via artistic visuals of the accomplishments of these individuals,” said “Too Black Too Fast” artist Michael McBride.
“The ability to use art as canvas for telling great unknown stories of Americans of color for the last fifteen years has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I hope South Florida truly enjoys what we plan to present in celebrating the 2022 Pegasus World Cup,” said “Too Black Too Fast” Executive Producer, Derell Stinson.
The opening reception of “Too Black Too Fast” on January 22 will also honor outgoing Superintendent of Miami-Dade Schools Alberto Carvalho and will feature a panel discussion by the show’s co-creator, McBride. The “Too Black Too Fast” exhibit is currently touring with 40 paintings and 25 bronze sculptures. The Historic Ward Rooming House Gallery is located at 249 NW 9th St. in Overtown.