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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago today in Spokane: Spokane jockey Albert Johnson rides Morvich to Kentucky Derby crown

Spokane jockey Albert Johnson rode to victory in the Kentucky Derby astride the great colt Morvich.

“50 feet from the start, jockey Johnson urged Morvich into the lead and before he finished the first quarter, it was evident that the great colt would retain it,” said a dispatch from Louisville. “… Bet Mosie began to show a burst of speed, closing the gap between him and Morvich. Jockey Johnson knew he was in for a race, and laid his face down against the steaming neck, shouting words of encouragement to the horse, but never applying the whip. The colt apparently understood what was expected of him, and increased his speed and crossed the wire two lengths ahead, while the crowd shrieked his name from the stands. There was a roar from thousands of throats and another derby had passed into history.”

Johnson grew up on a farm near Milan, and made his jockey debut at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds. He soon became a top jockey around the country, and was the second-leading jockey in the nation two years earlier. He had previously ridden Morvich to victory at Pimlico and in many other races.

His parents were not in Spokane to hear the exciting news, because their famous son had sent them on a trip to Norway. His three sisters, however, were in the Review building during the race so that they could hear the news as soon as it crossed the wire.

“It’s the happiest day of our lives,” said sister Otelia. “Albert is the pride of the family, and is constantly remembering dad, mother and the girls.”

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