Willie Simms was a Hall of Fame thoroughbred horse racing jockey.
Simms began racing in 1887 and was one of the most successful to use the short stirrup that gave the rider a crouching posture. En route to winning the United States riding title in 1894, Simms won back-to-back Belmont Stakes. The following year he raced in England where he became the first American jockey to win with an American horse in that country.
Back in the USA, Simms won the 1896 Kentucky Derby in its first time as a 1¼ mile race on Ben Brush. He repeated as the Derby winner in 1898 aboard Plaudit. Before the advent of the term and importance of the U.S. Triple Crown series, Simms went on to take the Preakness Stakes a few weeks later on a different horse, Sly Fox. Nonetheless, he is the only African American jockey to win all of the American Classic Races.
During a brilliant 14-year career, Willie Simms rode some of the great thoroughbred racehorses of the day such as two-time U.S. Horse of the Year, Henry of Navarre.
Willie Simms finished his riding career with 1,125 wins and in 1977 was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.