In what is surely an indelible highlight to an incredible 43-year career in the saddle, jockey Scott Stevens has been selected by a nationwide vote of his peers as the winner of Santa Anita’s 2019 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.
In winning this year’s Woolf Award, Stevens, 58, joins his Hall of Fame brother Gary, the 1996 Woolf winner, in becoming the only pair of brothers to win the Award since its inception in 1950.
One of five Woolf Award finalists, Stevens outpolled fellow riders Joe Bravo, Kerwin Clark, John Davila, Jr. and Julien Leparoux. In becoming the 70th Woolf Award winner, Scott Stevens follows in the footsteps of some of the greatest riders of the modern era.
Born Oct. 6, 1960 in Caldwell, Idaho and the son of a trainer and former rodeo queen, Stevens was raised with horses and broke his maiden on May 30, 1976 at Les Bois Park in Boise, at the age of 15.
Well respected and liked wherever he has ridden, Stevens, who is a member of both the Idaho and Canterbury Park (MN) Racing Halls of Fame, has amassed more than 4,800 wins from more than 32,400 career mounts.
Despite sustaining numerous injuries over the years, several life threatening, Stevens, in an interview with Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form eight years ago, articulated what keeps him going.
“…I want to make a good living,” he said. “I still feel I’m as aggressive as I’ve ever been. That’s the drive I have. I love to win races. I love being in the jocks’ room. When Gary rode in the Legends race at Santa Anita a couple of years ago, I saw (1981 Woolf Award winner) Eddie Delahoussaye in the Grandstand. He said he’d be out there in a heartbeat if he could. We all feel that way…If the day comes when I don’t feel like doing it, when it feels like a job, I’ll go out gracefully and be proud of what I did.”
A helpful source of information and guidance to younger riders, Stevens remains active this winter at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, AZ, where he’s a nine-time leading rider.
Stevens, who resides in Phoenix with his longtime partner Pam Isles, has two grown children, a daughter, Jessica and a son, Jake, and he lists 1988 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Great Communicator and 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Real Quiet among the best horses he’s ridden.
“Great Communicator I rode in the 1986-87 season at Santa Anita, a year and a half before he won the Breeders’ Cup with (2005 Woolf Award winner) Ray Sibille,” said Stevens in his 2011 interview with Jay Privman. “He could run further at full speed than any horse I ever rode. Real Quiet I rode three times as a 2-year-old, including the Indian Nations Futurity at Santa Fe, and a maiden race at Del Mar going a mile…At the time, he was just a big, skinny kid. They called him The Fish.”
A beloved and highly respected figure on the American racing landscape for parts of five decades, Scott Stevens will receive the Woolf Award Trophy in a Santa Anita Winner’s Circle ceremony on an as-yet to be determined date later this winter or spring.
(The legendary Hall of Fame jockey George Woolf died at age 35 following a spill on Santa Anita’s Club House turn on Jan. 3, 1946. The winner of the inaugural Santa Anita Handicap aboard Azucar on Feb. 23, 1935, Woolf also guided the immortal Seabiscuit to victory over 1937 Triple Crown winner and reigning Horse of the Year War Admiral in a winner-take-all match race at Pimlico Race Course on Nov. 1, 1938).