Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton was born in 1876 in Kansas City, Kansas. Ten years later he, his parents, and his eight siblings moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. For awhile Clayton worked as a hotel errand boy and shoeshine to help his parents, but at 12 he ran away to join his brother, who was working as a jockey for Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin in Chicago. Clayton’s first race was on May 11, 1890, in Clifton, New Jersey. In 1892 Clayton became the youngest Kentucky Derby winner in history. At 15 Clayton had an impressive list of wins under his belt that would continue to grow until the 1900s.
In 1895 Clayton built the Engelberger house in Little Rock, Arkansas. The house was built in the Queen Anne style and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Clayton tried to make a comeback in racing but was arrested in 1901 for fixing a race, however charges were later dropped. Clayton and his family eventually moved to California, where he died March 17, 1917, from chronic pulmonary tuberculosis.
Entry: Clayton, Alonzo
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: May 2012
Date Modified: April 2015
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