Think of the greatest American sports stars of all time and names like Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali and Serena Williams will likely spring to mind.
But long before these champions smashed the record books -- and blazed a trail in the public's imagination -- the first generation of black U.S. athletes dominated an unlikely sport.
The godfathers of Owens, Ali and Williams weren't stereotypical towering, musclebound men found on basketball courts or in boxing rings.
Instead, they were the jockeys of the race track and their dizzying success -- and dramatic fall -- is one of the most remarkable buried chapters in U.S. sporting history.
When the country's most prestigious horse race, the Kentucky Derby, launched in 1875, 13 of the 15 jockeys were African-American.
Much like the NBA today, black athletes dominated horse racing for the next three decades, winning 15 of the first 28 Derbies.
"They were the premier horsemen in the world," says Joe Drape, author of "Black Maestro," which tells the story of champion jockey Jimmy Winkfield.
"It was the first professional sport for black athletes in America. They were at the forefront of horse racing and it was a place where they could earn a good living."
Decades before Jackie Robinson made history in 1947 as the first black major league baseball player, African American jockeys forged a name as the first sports heroes of post-Civil War America.
The son of a former slave, Isaac Murphy was the first jockey to win three Kentucky Derbies -- in 1884, 1890, 1891. He went on to win an unheard-of 44% of all his competitions, becoming the first rider inducted into the National Racing Hall of fame.