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George Woolf Award Honors Outstanding Jockeys

Since 1950, Santa Anita Park has presented the annual George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award to honor the memory of one of the greatest Thoroughbred riders of all time.  It is prized a one of the most prestigious awards in sports.  The Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing.  The trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of George Woolf which as created through donations by the racing public after his death.

The statue of George Woolf and a life-size sculpture of Seabiscuit, the great Thoroughbred who was ridden to victory by Woolf in the Pimlico Special and Hollywood Gold Cup, have places of honor in and close proximity to the Santa Anita walking ring.  There the likenesses are admired daily by thousands of racing fans.

Jockey George Woolf was born in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, on May 31, 1910.  He began riding at small tracks in Canada and Montana.  His first big victory was in the 1933 Agua Caliente Handicap on Gallant Sir, but the year before that he scored with Hygro in the Capital Handicap at Laurel.

Known as “The Iceman,” Woolf will go down in modern turf history as one of the greatest stakes riders of all time.  He won the Belmont Futurity three straight years, with Occupation (1942), Occupy (1943), and Pavot (1944).  He also had a similar record in the American Derby at Washington Park, winning with Alsab (1942),  Askmenow (1943) and By Jimminy (1944).  He won the Hollywood Gold Cup with Seabiscuit (1938), Kayak II (1939) and Challedon (1940).  The Havre de Grace Handicap with Seabiscuit (1938) and Challedon (1939 and 1940).

He also won many other famous races, including the first running of the Santa Anita Handicap with Azucar, Santa Anita Derby, Preakness, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Arlington Handicap, Lawrence Realization, Hopeful, Hollywood Derby, Hawthorne Gold Cup, Chesapeake, Dixie, Arlington Classic, Coaching Club American Oaks, Bay Meadows Handicap and Brooklyn.

Woolf also was aboard the winner in two of the most memorable match races in history.  He outmaneuvered Charlie Kurtsinger on War Admiral to win the Pimlico Special aboard Seabiscuit in 1938.  Earlier that same year, Woolf piloted “The Biscuit” to a nose decision over Ligaroti, stalwart South American Star, in a special race at Del Mar.

Woolf was a friend to all horsemen.  He endeared himself to the little guy in racing and would give a friend’s cheap plater just as good a ride as he would a stakes horse for a fasionable stable.   Over 19 years, Woolf was 721 times first, 589 times second and 468 times third out of 3,748 mounts for an outstanding win percentage of .19.  His mounts earned $2,856,125.

Among racing fans, Woolf’s presence on a horse was practically a guarantee that the animal would be given the best possible ride.  Woolf enjoyed the confidence of the man in the grandstand as no other jockey ever had.  His coolness during a race was legend, hence the nickname “The Iceman.”

Woolf was blunt of speech and honest to a fault in his comments on the racing scene.  After riding Whirlaway to victory in the 1942 Massachusetts Handicap, the win which gave the Calumet Farm star the money-earning lead over Seabiscuit, he dismounted and was asked by reporters, “Is Whirlaway the greatest horse you ever rode?”  Woolf didn’t bat an eyelash as he picked his saddle off Whirlaway and answered, “Seabiscuit is the greatest horse I ever rode!”

Death rode the saddle with George Woolf during the running of the fourth race at Santa Anita on January 3, 1946.  He fell off W.W. Naylor’s Please Me rounding the clubhouse turn, struck the ground head first and did not regain consciousness before he died the next morning at St. Luke’s Hospital in Pasadena.  Brain concussion was given as cause of death.

COREY LANERIE WINS 64TH ANNUAL SANTA ANITA GEORGE WOOLF MEMORIAL JOCKEY AWARD, CAJUN NATIVE ELECTED BY NATIONWIDE VOTE OF HIS PEERS

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2014)—Corey Lanerie, one of the Midwest’s most successful jockeys, has been named the winner of the 2014 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by a nationwide vote of his peers.

It is expected that Lanerie, who is currently based at Gulfstream Park, will venture west to Santa Anita to accept the award in either March or April.

Lanerie, who broke his maiden at Evangeline Downs in April, 1991, outpolled four other finalists; David Amiss, Dennis Carr, Aaron Gryder and Scott Stevens.

Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950, the Woolf Award is one of the most highly coveted honors in all of racing as it recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for both the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Born Nov. 13, 1974, in Lafayette, Louisiana, Lanerie, began galloping horses at age nine and like so many Cajun riders before him, he rode at unrecognized “bush” tracks prior to officially launching his professional career.

A winner of more than 3,500 races, Lanerie has won multiple riding titles at Churchill Downs and was leading rider at Churchill’s 2013 Autumn Meeting. He has also been leading rider at Ellis Park in Kentucky and at three Texas tracks—Lone Star Park, Sam Houston Park and Retama Park.

Born to ride, Lanerie’s grandfather was a trainer who owned horses and his father, Gerald, became a trainer following a career as a jockey.

Held in the highest regard by horsemen and fellow jockeys wherever he has competed, Lanerie currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Shantel, and their young daughter, Brittlyn.

The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize the legendary jockey George “The Iceman” Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big money riders of his time. Woolf died following a spill, which has often been attributed to the effects of diabetes, on Santa Anita’s Club House turn Jan. 3, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.

2013 Recipient Mario Pino

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 22, 2013)—Mario Pino, Maryland racing’s all-time leading rider, has been selected by a vote of his fellow jockeys as the 64th winner of the prestigious Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. The announcement was made Friday morning on HRTV.
Pino outpolled a group of finalists that included Javier Castellano, Perry Compton, David Flores and Rodney Prescott.

Initiated by Santa Anita in 1950, the Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing.

Born Sept. 8, 1961, in West Grove, Pennsylvania, Pino won his first race at Maryland’s Bowie Racecourse on Jan. 16, 1979. He became racing’s 10th winningest jockey this past Sept. 18, as he passed Hall of Famer Earlie Fires by notching his 6,471st victory at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Pino garnered national acclaim as the regular rider of top-tier 3-year-old Hard Spun in 2007, guiding him to a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and to victories in the Grade I King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga and the Grade II Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. He would go on to ride the Larry Jones trainee to a runner-up finish behind eventual Horse of the Year Curlin in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park.

One of the most highly respected jockeys in America, Pino and his wife, Christina and three daughters reside in Ellicott City, Maryland where he devotes much of his spare time to coaching youth sports.

Pino’s career has been marked by consistency as he has never won fewer than 141 races in a year. He has topped the 200-win mark 12 times, with his highest win total coming in 2001, when he booted home 297 winners.

The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize the legendary jockey George “The Iceman” Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big money riders of his era and who died following a spill on Santa Anita’s Club House turn on Jan. 3, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.


2012 Recipient Ramon Dominguez

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2012)—Two-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Ramon Dominguez has been selected by a vote of his fellow jockeys nationwide as the 63rd winner of the prestigious Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. It is expected Dominguez will fly west to Santa Anita from his Florida base at Gulfstream Park in mid or late March to accept the award.

The Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing.

Retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who won the Woolf Award in 1996, made the announcement from Santa Anita’s winner’s circle on HRTV Sunday afternoon.

Dominguez, a 35-year-old native of Venezuela, outran fellow finalists Corey Lanerie, Martin Pedroza, DeShawn Parker and (Gary’s older brother) Scott Stevens to win one of racing’s most coveted awards.

America’s leading jockey by number of wins in 2001 and 2003, Dominguez has won back-to-back Eclipse Awards as North America’s champion jockey in 2010 and 2011. In addition to these honors, Dominguez won the Isaac Murphy Award in 2004 for having the highest win percentage among American-based riders.

Dominguez has two Breeders’ Cup wins to his credit, winning the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf with Better Talk Now and most recently, the 2011 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile this past November at Churchill Downs with Hansen.

Born Nov. 24, 1976 in Caracas, Venezuela, Dominguez began riding at Hialeah Park in Florida in 1996. He has become a dominant force in New York, with 13 NYRA riding titles to his credit, dating back to 2007-08.

The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize the legendary jockey George “The Iceman” Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big money riders of his era and who died following a spill on Santa Anita’s Club House turn on Jan. 3, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.

Dominguez resides in New York with his wife Sharon and son Alexander. First presented by Santa Anita in 1950, the Woolf Award was won last year by Garrett Gomez.




2011 Recipient Garrett Gomez

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 24, 2011)—By a vote of his peers nationwide, jockey Garrett Gomez, a two-time Eclipse Award winner, and who was North America’s leading rider by money-won in 2006, ’07,’08 and ’09, will become the 62nd recipient of the prestigious Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in a winner’s circle ceremony at Santa Anita on Sunday, March 20.

Gomez outpolled fellow jockeys Joe Bravo, Javier Castellano, Corey Lanerie and Gallyn Mitchell.

Nicknamed “Go-Go” for his hard-charging style, Gomez is considered one of the best finishers in modern racing history. This ability was never more evident than in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.

Gomez, nursing an injured shoulder, called upon every ounce of his strength and big-money savvy to win the Classic aboard Blame, while fighting off the late charge of the great Zenyatta by mere inches.

Although he sustained the shoulder injury as a result of a spill at Churchill Downs on Thursday, Nov. 4, Gomez rebounded to not only win the Classic on Nov. 6, but he also won the Juvenile Fillies Turf aboard More than Real and the Juvenile (colts) Turf aboard Pluck, on Nov. 5 and 6, respectively.

“It’s heartwarming to me to see that his peers have acknowledged not only his tremendous professional success, but his triumph over the issues he’s dealt with in his personal life as well,” said Ron Anderson, Gomez’s agent for the past five years.

“He’s just an American success story. He and his family have been through a lot and Garrett has been very upfront in dealing with all of this. Professionally, his accomplishments speak for themselves. He’s won 12 Breeders’ Cup races over the past six years and nobody in the history of the sport has done that.

“Garrett has come a long, long way personally and professionally and for him to be able to join the fraternity of Woolf Award winners at this stage of his career, it’s got to be one of the crowning achievements in his life.”

The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize Woolf, who was one of the greatest riders of his era and who died soon after a spill on the Club House turn at Santa Anita on Jan. 13, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.

Born Jan. 1, 1972, in Tucson, Arizona, Gomez broke his maiden on Aug. 19, 1988, at Santa Fe Downs in New Mexico. He rode the fair circuit in New Mexico and then rode extensively in Nebraska, at Fonner Park and Ak-sar-ben.

Gomez’s career began to take off in the mid ’90s, as he became well established in the Midwest region of the country. In the midst of this success however, were problems related to substance abuse—resulting in time away from racing in 1995.

Although he was considered one of America’s most talented young riders, Gomez’s career went into free-fall in 2002 as a result of drug and alcohol issues. Although he rode for part of that year, he was totally inactive in 2003 and 2004.

However, with the assistance of his former agent Jim Pegram, “Go-Go” returned to full-time riding late in 2004, and by the end of 2005, he had clearly established himself as one of the top big-money riders in America—as he won his first two Breeders’ Cup races that year, taking the Juvenile with Stevie Wonderboy and the Mile with Artie Schiller.

At the suggestion of retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, Gomez hired Anderson in early 2006, a move that no doubt facilitated Gomez’s ascension to the top of his profession. In addition to their four consecutive money-won titles, Gomez and Anderson combined forces to win Eclipse Awards in 2007 and 2008.

Ever since his return to the saddle in 2004, Gomez has dealt with his personal problems in a forthright manner and contributed generously, monetarily and personally, to charitable causes such as the California-based Winners’ Foundation, which helps people throughout the racing industry.

Gomez resides in nearby Duarte with his wife Pam and children Jared, Amanda, Shelby and Collin.

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Garrett Gomez


2010 Recipient Calvin Borel
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 21, 2010)—By a vote of his peers, Calvin Borel will become the 61st recipient of the prestigious Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in a winner’s circle ceremony at Santa Anita on Sunday, March 14.

“Calvin is proud and very honored to win this prestigious award,” said Jerry Hissam, Borel’s long time agent. “I’m proud to have been able to stand beside him for 20 years, and I realize I’m very close to him, but he’s earned this. He works very hard and he deals with everyone honestly. He’s an incredibly competitive rider and he gives everyone, the trainers, the owners and the fans, their money’s worth, every time he gets a leg up.

“He’ll ride on the 13th and then we’re looking forward to coming out there the next day for the Woolf Award. This is a great honor and I know Calvin wants to thank everyone that voted for him and all the horsemen that have supported him.”

It is expected that Borel will ride 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra on March 13 in the $200,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. It is hoped this will ready the superstar filly for an epic showdown with the Breeders’ Cup Classic champion mare Zenyatta in the $5 million Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 9.

The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize Woolf, who was one of the greatest riders of his era and who died soon after a spill on the Club House turn at Santa Anita on Jan. 13, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.

Born Nov. 7, 1966 in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, Borel is in his 36th year as a professional jockey, having won his first recognized race in 1976. Like so many Cajun riders before him, Borel began riding match races in his native Louisiana long before he was old enough to compete at recognized racetracks.

In addition to his storybook run with Rachel Alexandra last year, Borel, who won his first Kentucky Derby in 2007 with Street Sense, notched his second Derby win last year with Mine That Bird at odds of 50-1.

From “matching” at age eight, to winning his first Kentucky Derby at age 40, Borel’s career has been punctuated by hard work and a no-nonsense approach to the sport’s daily rigors. Borel can commonly be found mucking stalls and performing other menial stable chores for his brother, trainer Cecil Borel, at Oaklawn Park’s annual winter/spring meeting.

First presented by Santa Anita in 1950, the Woolf Award was won last year by John Velazquez.

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2009 Recipient John Velazquez
John Velazquez, 37, was America's leading money-winning and Eclipse-Award winning jockey in 2004 and 2005, and is currently riding full-time at Gulfstream Park in Florida.  He moved from Puerto Rico and began riding in New York in 1990, where he has amassed 24 riding titles at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga.

A winner of the 2007 Belmont Stakes aboard the filly Rags to Riches, who was conditioned by one of his primary clients, Todd Pletcher, Velasquez has won six Breeders' Cup races and numerous other stakes nationwide.  In 2004, he won the Bill Shoemaker Award for top Breeders' Cup performance by a jockey, as he took the Distaff with Ashado and Sprint with Speightstown.

Velazquez, born November 24, 1971, got his 4,000th career win on Sept. 28 at Belmont Park.  His recent stakes victories include a win aboard the Pletcher-conditioned Cowboy Cal in the Grade II Strub Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 7.

"Johnny V." as he is known in racing circles has long been regarded as a leader among his peers and he commands the respect of horsemen and media throughout the racing world.  Velazquez came to New York at the behest of fellow Puerto Rican and retired Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero, who currently serves as his agent.

Velazquez is married to the former Leona O'Brian, daughter of trainer Leo O'Brian.  They have two children, a daughter Lerina, and a son, Michael Patrick.  The Velazquez's reside permanently in New York.


PAST WOOLF AWARD WINNERS

1950-Gordon Glisson
1951-Bill Shoemaker
1952 John Longden
1953-Eddie Arcaro
1954-Ralph Neves
1955-Ray York
1956-John Adams
1957-Ted Atkinson
1958-Merlin Volzke
1959-Bill Boland
1960-Bill Harmatz
1961-Peter Moreno
1962-Steve Brooks
1963-Ismael Valenzuela
1964-Manuel Ycaza
1965-Walter Blum
1966-Alex Maese
1967-Donald Pierce
1968-Braulio Baeza
1969-John Sellers
1970-Laffitt Pincay, Jr.
1971-Jerry Lamber
1972-Angel Cordero, Jr.
1973-John L. Rotz
1974-Alvaro Pineda
1975-Fernando Toro
1976-Sandy Hawley
1977-Frank Olivares
1978-Darrel McHargue
1979-Ron Turcotte

1980-Chris McCarron
1981-Eddie Delahoussaye
1982-Patrick Valenzuela
1983-Marco Castaneda
1984-Steve Cauthen
1985-Pat Day
1986-Jorge Velasquez
1987-Don MacBeth
1988-Don Brumfield
1989-Larry Snyder
1990-John Lively
1991-Earlie Fires
1992-Jerry Bailey
1993-Kent Desormeaux
1994-Phil Grove
1995-Edward Maple
1996-Gary Stevens
1997-Alex Solis
1998-Craig Perret
1999-Jose Santos
2000-Mike Smith
2001-Dean Kutz
2002-Russell Baze
2003-Edgar Prado
2004-Robby Albarado
2005-Ray Sibille
2006-Mark Guidry
2007-Jon Court
2008-Richard Migliore
2009-John Velazquez
2010-Calvin Borel
2011-Garrett Gomez
2012-Ramon Dominguez
2013-Mario Pino

PDJF

Thoroughbred Jockeys' Leaderboard: Mount Earnings
1.   Javier Castellano $13,701,540
2.   Joel Rosario $11,593,137
3.   Irad Ortiz, Jr. $9,036,301
4.   Jose L. Ortiz $8,020,383
5.   John Velazquez $7,733,045
6.   Mike Smith $7,647,014
7.   Victor Espinoza* $6,851,875
8.   Joe Talamo $6,601,932
9.   Jose Lezcano $6,523,703
10.   Rosie Napravnik $6,394,546
As of 07/22/14
*non-Member
 
 
Thoroughbred Jockeys' Leaderboard: Wins
1.   Russell Baze 196
2.   Javier Castellano 190
3.   Paco Lopez 160
4.   Antonio Gallardo 158
5.   Richard Eramia 148
6.   Edgard Zayas 148
7.   Trevor McCarthy* 144
8.   Irad Ortiz, Jr. 144
9.   Ronnie Allen, Jr.* 137
10.   James Graham 130
As of 07/22/14
*non-Member
 
 
Quarter Horse Jockey Standings: Mount Earnings
1.   G. R. Carter $1,871,784
2.   Cody Jensen $1,800,489
3.   Jimmy Dean Brooks $1,545,614
4.   Omar Reyes $1,419,500
5.   Larry Gamez* $1,204,800
6.   John Hamilton $1,195,516
7.   Alfonso Lujan $1,117,183
8.   David A. Alvarez* $1,111,876
9.   Ricky Ramirez $1,104,196
10.   Cruz Mendez $1,049,984
As of 07/22/14
*non-Member
 
 
Quarter Horse Jockey Standings: Wins
1.   John Hamilton 87
2.   G.R. Carter 78
3.   David Alvarez* 72
4.   Cruz Mendez 71
5.   Alfonso Lujan 63
6.   Omar Reyes 61
7.   Danny Lavergne 59
8.   Jimmy Dean Brooks 56
9.   Luis L. Vivanco 55
10.   Cesar DeAlba 55
As of 07/22/14
*non-Member
 
 

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