Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will announce the winner of the 2009 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award live on HRTV, this Thursday at approximately 2:05 PM (pst). The award has been given annually since 1950 to a North American jockey, chosen by his or her peers, who demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct both on and off the racetrack.
This year's finalists are Gary Baze, Calvin Borel, Javier Castellano, David Flores and John Velazquez.
It is fitting that Stevens will make the announcement. Not only is he a former recipient of the Woolf Award (1996), but he also played the famed Woolf in the 2003 film Seabiscuit. Stevens, now retired, works as a full-time analyst on HRTV.
The trophy is a replica of a full-size bronze statue of George Woolf that stands in the paddock at Santa Anita Park. Woolf, who was revered by his fellow jockeys for his riding ability, competitiveness, and professionalism, died at the age of 35 following a spill at Santa Anita.
During the running of the fourth race on January 3, 1946, Woolf fell from his horse as they rounded the clubhouse turn, suffering a concussion. He was taken to St. Luke's Hospital in Pasadena, where he died the next day. George Woolf was a diabetic, and it was generally believed that he suffered a diabetic fainting spell before falling from his mount.
Known as "The Iceman" because of his renowned cool and patience while waiting for his horse to make the right move in a race, George Woolf was one of the premier jockeys of his era. In 1935, he made history when he rode Azucar to victory in the Santa Anita Handicap - the first horse race worth $100,000.