On June 15, 1971, Cheryl White became the first black female jockey. She was also the first woman at a major track to win five throroughbred races. In 1991, after passing the California Horse Racing Board’s Steward examination, she began serving as a racing official at California tracks.
Cheryl was one of racing’s pioneers. It was reported by one source that Cheryl was one of only three African American jockeys in America at that time. On October 19, 1983, White became the first female jockey to win 5 thoroughbred races in one day at a major track. “The last winner I rode that day was Montfort, a 10-year-old, and making his 100th start,” she laughed. Her accomplishments came at Fresno Fair in Northern California.
The year she appeared on the July 29, 1971 cover of “Jet” magazine was a year to remember. Cheryl shared the covers of “Jet” with such illuminates as: Civil Rights Activist Angela Davis, boxing champion Muhammad Ali, entertainer Sammy Davis, and Congressman John Conyers.
She garnered enough attention as a jockey to become invited to the “Boots and Bows Handicap”, and all ladies’ race in Atlantic City August 28, 1972 . Cheryl, on the longest shot from a field of 14, won the race.
“In my career, I rode about 750 winners”, said Cheryl recently, the list includes Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Arabian, Paint and Appaloosa races. “I was leading Appaloosa rider in America for 5 years,” she remarked. She also led in stakes victories and topped the riding standings at fair meets in Northern California in the 70s.
Cheryl White’s career was not short of rewards. In 1990 she was presented an Award of Merit by the African American Sports Hall of Fame, in Sacramento, California. That same year, the California Legislature Letter of Recognition, Sports Award, and the Award of Merit.
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