06/14/2012 3:11PM

Former West Coast rider Maese dead at age 83

Benoit Photo
Alex Maese won 1,981 races during his career and was honored with the George Woolf Award in 1966.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Alex Maese, who rode in California from 1952 to 1981, died Thursday morning after complications of a recent surgery, Hollywood Park announced in a statement.

Maese was 83, and resided in Southern California.

Maese won 1,981 races, riding throughout the state. He rode his first winner at Fairplex Park and his last at Golden Gate Fields.

Maese won 18 stakes at Hollywood Park, 14 at Del Mar and 7 at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting in his career.

One of his top mounts was Terry’s Secret, who Maese rode to wins in the Del Mar Futurity in 1964, the Del Mar Handicap and Hollywood Derby in 1965, and the Malibu Stakes in 1966. In 1966, Maese won divisions of the Del Mar Oaks and Ramona Handicap with Desert Trial, who won the Ramona Handicap again in 1967.

Other major stakes wins for Maese included the 1958 Del Mar Derby on The Shoe, the 1959 Arlington Futurity on TV Lark, the 1960 Del Mar Derby on Nagea, the 1962 San Antonio Handicap on Olden Times, and the1963 Hollywood Derby on Perris.

In 1966, Maese was honored with the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, which recognizes a rider for accomplishments on the racetrack as well as personal character. A graduate of Anaheim high school, Maese was inducted into the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.

Maese stayed close to the sport during his retirement. He rode in the Rocking Chair Derby exhibition for former riders at Del Mar in the early 1990s, and was an occasional visitor to the racetrack. Earlier this year, Maese attended the presentation of the Woolf Award at Santa Anita, and was recognized during the ceremony as a past winner.

Maese is survived by his wife, Rosemarie, five children as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. Services are pending.