Tuesday, March 3, 2009

George Woolf Award to Velazquez set for March 8


Feb 26th, 09
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2009)—John Velazquez, winner of the 2009 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, will receive the prestigious honor at Santa Anita on Sunday, March 8, it was announced today.

In a ceremony between races, Velazquez will formally receive the Woolf Trophy and be surrounded by many former winners of the award, which was instituted by Santa Anita in 1950. By a vote of his peers nationwide, Velazquez was selected over four other finalists, Gary Baze, Calvin Borel, Javier Castellano and David Flores.

The winner’s trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of George Woolf which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area. The statue was created through donations from the racing public after Woolf’s death following a spill at Santa Anita on Jan. 13, 1946.

Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big-money riders of his era, was affectionately known as “The Iceman” in reference to his cool under pressure, and was revered by his colleagues as a fierce competitor and consummate professional.

The award, which honors and recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing, is regarded as one of the most prestigious honors in the racing world.

Past winners such as Ray York (1955), Merlin Volzke (1958), Bill Harmatz (1960), Peter Moreno (1961), Ismael Valenzuela (1963), Alex Maese (1966), Donald Pierce (1967), Laffit Pincay Jr. (1970), Jerry Lambert (1971), Fernando Toro (1975), Frank Olivares (1977), Eddie Delahoussaye (1981), Gary Stevens (1996), Alex Solis (1997) and Mike Smith (2000), are likely to attend.