Thoroughbred Daily News

By T. D. Thornton

Cheryl White aboard Jetolara, the same horse she rode to her first victory (Photo Credit: betchicago.com/Unamed)

A memorial to celebrate the life of Cheryl White, the nation’s first black female jockey, will be held at Thistledown Oct. 18.

White died Sep. 20 at age 65 at her Ohio home after a brief illness, according to published obituaries.

On June 15, 1971, at age 17, White made history as the first African-American female jockey in America when she rode Ace Reward at Thistledown. She rode her first winner September 2, 1971, at Waterford Park on Jetolara, becoming the first black woman in the country to win a race.

Her breakthrough rides made newspaper headlines in her home state of Ohio, and White graced the cover of Jet magazine, the most influential African-American publication of its time.

White was born into a horse racing family. Her father, Raymond White, Sr., was an accomplished Thoroughbred trainer, and her mother, Doris, owned racehorses.

White earned an academic scholarship to attend Bowling Green State University and was planning on becoming a math teacher. But she decided to pursue her equine passion for a little while, and then attend college. That “little while” ended up lasting 21 years in the saddle.

In a profile published six months ago on the website BetChicago, White said her parents’ initial support for her career choice was mixed.

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