Historical Perspectives on Sports Economics
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Historical Perspectives on Sports Economics

Lessons from the Field

Edited by John K. Wilson and Richard Pomfret

The sports sector, apart from being of economic significance in itself, is clearly one that many citizens share a great interest in. It is not mere results, but aspects such as history, statistics, interest in labour markets and finances that often spark people’s interest. Historical Perspectives on Sports Economics explores a variety of topics including mega-event analysis, sports governance, anthropometrics, gambling, industrial organisation, infrastructure development and racial issues. 
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Chapter 10: Beating the odds: black jockeys in the Kentucky Derby, 1870-1911

Michael Leeds and Hugh Rockoff


For many years after the Civil War there were many prominent African American jockeys. They rode winners in all of the Triple-Crown races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. But at the turn of the century African American jockeys were forced out. It was another poignant example of the “Strange Career of Jim Crow.” This chapter uses a new dataset on the Kentucky Derby, including odds all the entrants in all of the races through 1911, to explore further the attitudes of owners, trainers, and the betting public toward African American jockeys before their expulsion.

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