Celebrating the Legacy of Cheryl White: The First Licensed Black Female Jockey

Keeneland Honors Cheryl White’s Historic Career with Special Events

Cheryl White made history in 1971 as the first licensed Black female jockey to win a Thoroughbred race in the United States. Her remarkable journey and trailblazing achievements continue to inspire generations of aspiring jockeys. Keeneland, a renowned horse racing venue, is set to celebrate White’s groundbreaking career with two special events on Saturday, October 21st. From a family-friendly morning event to an afternoon book signing, Keeneland aims to shed light on White’s contributions to the sport and honor her enduring legacy.

A Morning of Inspiration and Education

Keeneland’s Sunrise Trackside event, held from 8-10 a.m. (ET), will serve as a platform to spotlight Cheryl White’s historic career. This free, family-friendly event offers children a unique opportunity to learn about the world of horse racing and the dedication required to become a jockey. Keeneland will also be giving away new Breyer sets featuring a figure of Cheryl White, a model horse named Jetolara (her first winning mount), and a copy of the recently released book, “The Jockey & Her Horse,” co-written by her brother Raymond White Jr. Several lucky winners will have the chance to take home these special prizes, further commemorating White’s accomplishments.

An Afternoon of Reflection and Appreciation

Following the morning event, The Keeneland Shop and Keeneland Library will host a book signing with Raymond White Jr., Cheryl White’s brother and co-author of “The Jockey & Her Horse.” From 1-3 p.m., fans and racing enthusiasts will have the opportunity to meet Raymond White Jr. and obtain signed copies of the book, as well as purchase Cheryl White Breyer sets. This event provides an intimate setting for attendees to engage with the author and delve deeper into the remarkable story of Cheryl White.

A Journey Rooted in Family and Passion

Cheryl White’s love for horse racing was nurtured by her father, Raymond White Sr., a jockey and trainer, and her mother, Doris Gorske, a Polish breeder and owner. At the age of 17, White secured her first mount at Thistledown in Ohio on June 15, 1971, just three years after the first female jockey license was issued in the United States. Although her debut race with Ace Reward, trained by her father, did not yield a victory, it marked the beginning of her groundbreaking career.

Making History and Breaking Barriers

On September 2, 1971, Cheryl White etched her name in the history books by riding her first winner, Jetolara, at West Virginia’s Waterford Park (now Mountaineer Park). Jetolara, trained and owned by White’s father and bred by her mother, became a symbol of her early success. White’s trailblazing rides throughout the summer of 1971 garnered widespread attention, earning her a spot on the cover of Jet magazine’s July 29, 1971, issue. Over the course of her more than 20-year career, White amassed 227 wins on Thoroughbreds primarily at Midwestern tracks before transitioning to ride American Quarter Horses and Appaloosas on the county fair circuit in California.

A Legacy Beyond the Track

Following her retirement from racing in 1992, Cheryl White ended her career with over 750 victories. She continued to contribute to the horse racing industry as a racing steward in California before returning to Ohio in 2014 to join the racing office at Mahoning Valley Race Course. In 2014, White participated in Keeneland’s “Ladies of the Turf” celebration during the Spring Meet, joining other notable retired and active female jockeys. Her dedication and passion for the sport remained unwavering until her passing in 2019.

Cheryl White’s remarkable journey as the first licensed Black female jockey in the United States continues to inspire and pave the way for future generations. Keeneland’s upcoming events serve as a testament to her enduring legacy and the indelible mark she left on the horse racing community. Through Sunrise Trackside and the book signing with Raymond White Jr., Keeneland aims to celebrate White’s achievements, educate the public about her contributions, and ensure that her story is never forgotten. Cheryl White’s pioneering spirit and determination will forever be remembered as a beacon of inspiration in the world of horse racing.

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