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Britton, Thomas M., Sr. "Tom"
Birth Year : 1870
Death Year : 1901
Well known jockey Thomas "Tom" Britton, Sr. was born in 1870 in Lexington, KY, the son of Laura and Henry Britton. He was the husband of Pearl Jackson Britton (1873-1904, born in KY), and they had a son named Thomas Britton, Jr. [source: 1900 U.S. Federal Census]. Tom Britton, Sr. rode in the 1892 Kentucky Derby aboard Huron, owned by Ed Corrigan, and came in second place, six inches behind Alonzo Clayton riding Azra. Britton had won the Tennessee Derby in 1891 aboard Valera, and the Kentucky Oaks aboard Miss Hawkins. He was thrown against a fence and knocked unconscious when he fell while riding Miss Dixie in a Chicago race in June of 1891. It was written in the Milford Mail newspaper that Britton's mind had been affected by the injury, and since then he was sometimes referred to as "Crazy Britton." He continued racing and won the 1892 Tennessee Derby aboard Tom Elliott. Though a successful jockey during the earlier days of his career, Britton began having more serious troubles around 1895 when he lost his racing license. April of 1895, the Committee on Jockeys of the Turf Congress allowed Britton to have a two-month permit that was to be continued if his conduct was satisfactory. Britton was ruled off the track at Latonia in November of 1896, and it was recommended that his license be revoked. He had been ruled off the track five months earlier because of his involvement in a fraudulent ticket operation. In 1900, he was racing in Newport, KY, riding aboard Banbury, when both horse and rider took a spill. By 1901, Britton was down on his luck, he was broke and living in a room in a boarding house in Lodge Alley in Cincinnati, OH, when he committed suicide. Thomas M. Britton, Sr. is buried in African Cemetery #2 in Lexington, KY. For more see "The Chicago races," Sandusky Daily Register, 06/27/1891; "The Congress rules," New York Times, 04/12/1895, p.6; "Jockey Tom Britton," Leader, 11/20/1896, p.5; "Jockey Tom Britton," in the Daily Racing Form, 07/03/1896, p.2, and 07/04/1896, p.1; "Jockey Tom Britton," in the Daily Racing Form, 05/23/1900, p.1; "Took his own life," Leader, 05/20/1901, p.7; "Britton had great ability," The Milford Mail, 08/31/1905, p.3; and "Negro riders of renown," Daily Racing Form, 02/17/1922, p.2.
Subjects: Jockeys, Horsemen, Horse Breeders, Trainers, Betting, & The Derby, Suicide