James Smiley Exhibition

Aiken, S.C. – In celebration of Black History Month, an exhibit about Aiken native, James Smiley is now on display through February 28, 2021.
Smiley was born on March 5, 1918 in Aiken, South Carolina. He was the third of nine children born to Jim and Harriett Smiley. He received his formal education in the Aiken School System. When Smiley was in the sixth grade his father died. He felt compelled to quit school and enter the work force to support his mother and younger siblings. He moved to Hempstead, New York in 1935 at the age of seventeen and followed in his brother Wesley’s footsteps to become a steeplechase jockey.

Smiley mainly rode during the 1940s – 1950s for Mrs. Lillian Bostwick Phipps and George H. “Pete” Bostwick.

He rode Oedipus, who was owned by Phipps and trained by Bostwick, 13 times with 5 wins, 4 seconds and 1 third. The wins included the 1950 Aqueduct Spring Maiden Steeplechase, the 1950 Delaware Spring Maiden Steeplechase, the 1950 Shillelah Steeplechase and the Corinthian Handicap Steeplechase. Oedipus was named the 1950, 1951 & 1952 American Champion Steeplechase Horse.

Smiley passed away on March 13, 1990 in Mineola, New York.

The exhibit is located in the first floor Gallery during regular museum hours. Admission is free. All those in attendance will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Hopelands Gardens at 135 Dupree Place (off Whiskey Road) and and celebrates Aiken‘s contributions to equestrian sports. The Racing Hall of Fame is open Tuesday–Friday from 2-5 pm, Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday from 2 – 5 pm. For more information, call 803-642-7631, e-mail or visit the Hall of Fame website at

Media Contact:
City of Aiken Parks, Recreation and Tourism
P. O. Box 1177
Aiken, SC 29802
Phone: 803-643-2121