Steve Brooks was an American Hall of Fame jockey. The son of a horse dealer, he was born in rural Nebraska near the village of Culbertson. He began riding horses as a boy of ten and at age sixteen in 1938 won his first race at an accredited race track.
Steve Brooks skills led him to move to Chicago, Illinois to race at one of the United States' major venues, Arlington Park. There, in 1941 he won the Arlington Matron Stakes and in 1942 rode the Hal Price Headley-owned Lotopoise to victory in the first running of the Modesty Stakes. Brooks later rode the prestigious Calumet Farm horses when they raced at Arlington Park and for three straight years from 1947 through 1949 won Arlington's riding title.
In 1948 Steve Brooks won six races in a single day at Churchill Downs then at the same track the following year won the Kentucky Derby's Diamond Jubilee aboard Calumet Farm's colt, Ponder. Sent off by bettors at 16:1 odds, Brooks brought the colt from last in the field of fourteen horses to win going away over the Greentree Stable colt, Capot. Brooks went on to become the 1949 Champion Jockey by total earnings and runnerup in total wins.
Steve Brooks set a world record for the mile aboard the U.S. Triple Crown Champion Citation in winning the 1950 Golden Gate Mile at Golden Gate Fields. He also rode Citation to victory in the 1951 Hollywood Gold Cup, a win that made Citation the first horse in history to earn more than $1 million. In the 1959 Citation Handicap, an exhibition race at Washington Park Racetrack to honor the great horse, Brooks rode Round Table to victory. In 1952, he rode Charles T. Fisher's Sub Fleet to a second place finish in the Kentucky Derby and to fifth in the Preakness Stakes.
At age forty in 1961, Steve Brooks was the leading jockey at Monmouth Park and on April 8, 1963 became only the fifth jockey in American Thoroughbred racing history to win 4,000 races. He retired in 1970, but continued working with racehorses. He made a comeback in 1975 but rode for only a short time. In 1979, while exercising a horse, Brooks was thrown to the ground and died as a result of his injuries.