Chronicles of the Black Jockeys Volume II: When Americans were betting "Abe" on "Abe"

"Uncle Able Hawkins: The Black Prince”, “The Dark Sage of Louisiana”, “The Slayer of Lexington”

For a quarter of a century, his name has been familiar to those who take an interest in equine contests. All who have attended meetings on the turf in various parts of the United States for the past fifteen years will remember his swarthy face, his thoughtful air and his light figure.  As a rider and jockey, he had no equal in the country…  He was the master in his profession…  The Death of Old Abe is an irreparable loss to the American turf”… Turf, Field, and Farm (Orbituary, Abe Hawkins)group jockeys II

The first contest in modern American sports was the two-horse opener at Saratoga on August 3, 1863, which saw the African American jockey 'One-Eyed Sewell' on the horse ‘Lizzie W.’ defeat white jockey Billie Burgoyne riding his colt ‘Capt. Moore.’  In the aftermath of Emancipation, Union General Benjamin “Beast” Butler had dubbed slaves who had fled to freedom in the North, “contraband.”  This term often made it to Northern newspapers’ byline as well.  Of the win by Sewell, The Spirit of the Times wrote,  “We shall not soon forget the lurid light which glowed in the one eye of the contraband who rode her.”  But the Spirit had also set precedent with this Saratoga event by printing the names of the black jockeys (albeit only first names) along with their white counterparts, whereas previously, only the name of horses and white jockeys were printed.  In fact, in some later races across the country such as in St. Louis, the names of jockeys would be listed in the Laclede Association, only when “the visiting celebrity” Abe Hawkins was riding.

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