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. 





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

2014 - Corey Lanerie

2015 - Mike Luzzi

2016 - Victor Espinoza