Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Shelby D. “Pike” Barnes

During the late 19th century, Shelby “Pike” Barnes was widely recognized by turf experts to be among the elite in his thoroughbred racing profession. 

Born in Ohio County, Kentucky in 1871, Barnes became a rising star as a horse jockey at the age 14. In 1888, Barnes led all North American riders with 206 wins, becoming the first jockey to top 200 wins in a year. Barnes repeated as North America’s leading jockey in 1889 with 170 wins (25.7 percent) from 661 mounts. That year, Barnes won the Travers Stakes aboard Long Dance and the Champagne Stakes with June Day. In 1890, Barnes piloted Burlington to victories in the Belmont Stakes and the Brooklyn Derby. 

Barnes retired as a jockey in 1891. Barnes moved to Columbus, Ohio where he passed away in 1908 at the age of 37.

In 2011 Shelby "Pike" Barnes was inducted into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in Saratoga, New York.

From The Satatogian newspaper:

Shelby "Pike" Barnes to join the racing Hall of Fame on August 12
African-American jockeys dominated racing at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, winning 15 of the first 28 editions of the Kentucky Derby. Jimmy Winkfield won back to back Derbies in 1901 and 1902. Isaac Murphy was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbies.

Shelby "Pike" Barnes isn't known quite as well as Murphy or Winkfield, but his short and mercurial career has earned him a spot in racing history. On August 12, he'll join Winkfield and Murphy in the Hall of Fame, elected by the its Historic Review Committee.

Born in Beaver Dam, Kentucky in 1871, Barnes achieved much of his success in New York, riding winners in some of the state's most prestigious races.

In 1888, Barnes rode Proctor Knott to victory in the first running of the Futurity, then the richest race in the United States. His main competitor was future Hall of Famer Salvator, whose loss in this race would be one of only three in a 19-race career.

1888 is considered the pinnacle of Barnes's career; he led all North American riders with 206 wins, the first jockey ever to win more than 200 races in a year. He was leading jockey again the following year, winning at a 25.8% rate and notching 170 wins.

One of those wins in 1889 was in the Travers, when he rode Long Dance to victory against just one other competitor. In 1890, he won the Alabama on Sinaloa for E.J. "Lucky" Baldwin's Santa Anita Stable. He won the Kearny Stakes on the same card for the same connections, leading the New York Times to comment, "Of course Barnes rode both the winners."

Within two years of these victories, Barnes's career was over. Baldwin reportedly suspected Barnes of acting in concert with bookmakers and took him off his horses; a racing accident in 1890 so damaged the jockey psychologically that he never regained his winning form.

Riding in the Drexel Stakes at Washington Park in Chicago, Barnes was aboard the eventual winner Santiago when in front of him, a horse ridden by a jockey known by the name "Abbas" went down. Abbas was struck by Santiago's hooves, sustaining injuries from which he did not recover. Barnes announced his retirement from racing the following year.
He reportedly went into business with another black jockey, "Tiny" Williams, buying a saloon with him. Seven years later, in 1908, Barnes died in Columbus, Ohio, at age 37.

In reporting Barnes' death, the Daily Racing Form called the jockey "a fearless rider of great skill and good judgment." Various articles bemoaned the passing of the era of the black jockey; contemporary eyes see the racism that made it dangerous for black jockeys to ride with white riders, who would threaten and intimidate them on the track.
Barnes' riding career, and his life, were far too short. He won some of the sport's biggest races, including the Belmont Stakes and the Brooklyn Derby, but his tenacity on the track couldn't vanquish the struggles with weight, the racism, and the psychological torment that ended his career.

Contemporary reports make plain that the racing world mourned the loss of this talented jockey. It now embraces him, bestowing upon him its highest honor.

From Univ of Kentucky Library:

Barnes, Shelby D., "Pike"
Birth Year : 1871
Death Year : 1908
Shelby D. "Pike" Barnes was inducted into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in 2011. He was born in Beaver Dam, KY, the son of Joseph Barnes and Susan Austin Barnes [source: Ohio County Marriage Record, for Shelby D. Barnes]. Pike Barnes became a jockey when he was 14 years old. Barnes had a number of noted achievements in the racing industry. In 1888, he won the first race of the Futurity aboard Proctor Knott. The win was one of his 206 victories in 1888, a record number of wins by a jockey in the United States for one year. Barnes also had the most wins in 1889 with 170. Barnes would go on to win other big races such as the Belmont Stakes, but he soon gave up racing. In 1891, Barnes owned a farm in Beaver Dam, KY and was contemplating whether he would ride again [source: "Epitome of horsemen," Freeman, 11/14/1891, p. 2]. In 1908, Barnes was part owner of a saloon in Columbus, OH, when he died from consumption (tuberculosis). The Paragraphic News column in theWashington Bee, 01/18/1908, p. 1, noted that "[i]t is reported that Shelby Barnes, better known as "Pike" Barnes, died without any money, not withstanding he won $100,000 as a jockey." He is listed in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census as "Pike Barnes," the husband of Mary Barnes, a cook, who was born in August of 1873 in Kentucky. Her previous name was Mary C. Pennman; she had been married to James Pennman prior to marrying Shelby Barnes [source: Ohio County Marriage Records]. The couple married in 1897 and lived on E. Elm Street in Columbus, OH, according to the 1900 Census. Their marriage certificate is dated June 16, 1906. For more see T. Genaro, "Shelby Pike Barnes to join the racing Hall of Fame on August 12," The Saratogian, 08/05/2011, Sports section; and "Reported death of Pike Barnes," Daily Racing Form, 01/15/1908, p. 1.

 Shelby Barnes aboard "Tenny"

Photo Used at Hall of Fame Induction  

Plaque at Hall of Fame Induction

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