Historical Marker #2027 in Woodford County notes the historical significance of Edward Dudley Brown, an African American jockey, horse owner, and trainer.
Brown, better known as Brown Dick—nicknamed after a fast horse of that era —was born into slavery in 1850. As a boy he was sold in Lexington at a courthouse sale. He ended up at the Woodburn Estate horse farm of Robert A. Alexander in Woodford County, where he developed a keen knowledge of thoroughbreds and the racing industry.
Closely associated as a stable hand and jockey for Alexander’s famous thoroughbred Asteroid, Brown achieved many wins on the horse. From 1864 to 1870, Brown also rode such Woodburn standouts as Merrill, Bayswater, Kingfisher, and Virgil. In 1870, he won the Belmont Stakes on Kingfisher.
Maturing to manhood, Brown gained too much weight to continue as a jockey. Therefore, he transitioned to training horses. Brown switched stables from Alexander to Daniel Swigert, who owned a horse farm adjacent to Woodburn. One of Brown’s early training successes was his first Kentucky Derby winner Baden Baden, who won in 1877.
In the 1880s, Brown switched stables a number of times. In 1896, Brown struck out on his own, and, as owner and trainer, he won his second Kentucky Derby with Ben Brush. Two years later, Brown trained another Kentucky Derby winner, Plaudit, who was owned by John E. Madden.
Brown died of tuberculosis in Louisville on May 11, 1906. He was fifty-six years old. His funeral was held at the Midway Pilgrim Baptist Church in Woodford County. Brown was inducted in the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame in 1984. His accomplishments as a rider, trainer, and owner are still revered in racing circles today.