June 15, 1971
Cheryl’s first step into the history books took place at Thistledown Racetrack in Cleveland, OH, in front of a shoulder to shoulder, standing-room only crowd in and out of the Grandstand. Everyone in attendance clamored to catch a glimpse of history in the making.
After months of build-up, continuous local media coverage, practicing hours on end, the moment had arrived. Cheryl White, atop Ace Reward owned by her mother Doris and trained by her father Raymond, she rode out of the paddock for the post parade to a thunderous roar from the crowd.
With a fast break out of the starting gate, she took the lead and looked to be heading for a win. But it was not to be that day, as Cheryl and Ace Reward faded to the back of the pack to finish last in the 11 horse field. Undeterred by this Cheryl was more relieved than anything to have that first race under her belt and was ready for her next ride. It would only be 2.5 more months before she logged her first of more than 700 wins during her 20 year career.
The Jockey & Her Horse
Following in the hoofprints of The Flying Horse, Pulitzer Prize nominee Sarah Maslin Nir and Raymond White Jr.’s The Jockey & Her Horse is the second title in the Once Upon a Horse series. Illustrated with black-and-white art by Laylie Frazier, it is inspired by the true story of the first Black female jockey, Cheryl White, who raced to the finish line on her horse, Jetolara.