Isaac Burns Murphy is one of the greatest jockeys ever, and it can be argued that he is in fact the greatest.
By Murphy's calculation, he won 628 of his 1,212 starts in a career that lasted from 1875 to 1895. The 44 percent winning percentage is the best of all time, and is a record that is nearly impossible to beat. In later years his count number was recalculated, changing his numbers to 530 wins in 1,538 rides, putting his win rate at 34 percent, which is still outstanding.
Murphy was born on a farm near Frankford, Ky., in 1861. His father was a bricklaying free black man and his mother worked as a laundrywoman. While fighting in the Civil War for the Union Army, his father died in a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. Shortly after, Murphy's mother moved their family to Lexington, Ky., to live with her parents.