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Notable winners of Woolf Award
The 56th recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award will be announced this month by Santa Anita.
The award has been handed out annually since 1950 by the Arcadia, Calif., track to honor riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for themselves and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
The annual recipient is selected by a vote of members of the Jockeys' Guild, from among a list of nominees selected by the guild's regional managers.
Woolf, whose career was featured in the 2003 Academy Award-nominated motion picture "Seabiscuit, an American Legend," is a member of racing's Hall of Fame and is considered one of the great jockeys of all time.
Known as "The Iceman," because of his calm, cool demeanor in the saddle, Woolf rode for two decades and won with 19 percent of his starters.
On Jan. 3, 1946, Woolf was thrown from his mount Please Me in the fourth race at Santa Anita. He never regained consciousness and died the next morning.
Test your knowledge of Woolf Award winners of the past.
1. "A cheap horse that tries as hard as he can and runs his best every time he appears, has more class than a top horse who refuses to give his best ever time," wrote this rider in his 1961 autobiography, "All the Way."
Known as "The Slasher" because of his finesse with a whip, he rode from 1938 to 1959. He led all jockeys in races and money won in 1944 and 1946. He was the first jockey whose mounts earned more than $1 million in a single season. Name him.
2. This rider had the unusual distinction of having never ridden as an apprentice. He won the first race of his career in 1934 as a journeyman jockey.
He explained that his mother did not want him to ride and she refused to sign papers for him to be a minor-age apprentice. As a result, he simply lied about his age and rode as a journeyman.
The greatest victory of his 24-year career came aboard Hasty Road in the 1954 Preakness Stakes. Name him.
3. When Citation crossed the finish line of the July 14, 1951, Hollywood Gold Cup, he became the first Thoroughbred in history to pass the $1 million mark in earnings. In the saddle that afternoon was not his more famous pilot, Eddie Arcaro, but Calumet Farm's regular Chicago rider.
Two years earlier, this rider had piloted another Calumet ace, Ponder, to victory in the 75th running of the Kentucky Derby. He also rode Round Table in the horse's first 13 starts and told trainer Bill Molter after the colt's first race that he would be a champion. Name him.
4. This rider was probably more recognizable in the post parade than any jockey in history. He was lanky, and sat on a horse as if his upper body was strapped to a board.
His father and grandfather had both been jockeys in Panama, where this rider competed in his early years.
In a 16-year career in the United States, he rode, at one time or another, 24 different champions and nine members of the Hall of Fame. Name him.
5. His number of lifetime winners - 6,795 - currently places him eighth on the top 10 list.
He began his career walking hots in his native Panama. He soon was that country's leading rider and caught the eye of Florida owner and breeder Fred W. Hooper, who brought him to the United States in 1963.
(Three years later, Hooper would bring another Panamanian rider, Laffit Pincay Jr., to America. He retired in 2003 as the world's winningest rider.)
This jockey piloted such Hall of Famers as Alydar, Shuvee, and Fort Marcy. Name him.
HISTORY CHALLENGE ANSWERS
1. Ted Atkinson rode many great horses during his career, but always put one far above the others - 1953 Horse of the Year Tom Fool.
Atkinson rode Tom Fool in all 30 starts of the horse's career. In 1953, Tom Fool was 10 for 10, racing from six furlongs to 1 1/4 miles and carrying up to 136 pounds.
For much of his career, Atkinson was a contract rider for the famed Greentree Stable. Among the top horses he rode were Capot, Gallorette, Devil Diver, War Relic, and Olympia. He also was aboard Nashua twice.
Born in Toronto in 1916, Atkinson was so aggressive on horseback that he was fined twice by the stewards at Hialeah in 1949 for slapping 2-year-olds with his hand. (Rules at the time prohibited whips in juvenile races.)
Following his retirement from riding, Atkinson became a racing official, eventually being named steward.
He was elected to racing's Hall of Fame in 1957, the same year he won the George Woolf Award.
2. John Adams was nicknamed "Iola Mite" for his boyhood town in Kansas. He was born in Carlisle, Ark., but moved to Kansas shortly thereafter.
One of the shortest riders ever to climb on a horse, he was also one of the chunkiest. Adams began riding at county fairs in Kansas and Oklahoma in the mid-1930's and rode his first winner at Riverside Park in Kansas City, Kan.
In the final years of his career, he had first call for horses owned by the Hasty House Farm, which included Preakness winner Hasty Road.
Adams was the nation's leading rider in 1937, 1942, and 1943. He was the recipient of the Woolf Award in 1956 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965.
3. When he retired from riding in 1970 after a career that spanned nearly 40 years, Steve Brooks had ridden 4,451 winners and was the fourth leading rider of all time in total victories.
The signature race of his career came on Ponder in the 1949 Kentucky Derby. Ponder was winless at age 2 and had not yet won a stakes race when he entered the starting gate for the Derby. He went off at 16-1.
The son of a Nebraska horse trader, Brooks was riding on bush tracks before his 10th birthday. He won his first race at a recognized track when he was 18.
Brooks was presented with the Woolf Award in 1962 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame the following year.
4. Braulio Baeza was aboard Buckpasser when he set a world record for one mile on dirt (1:32.60) in 1966. Two years later, he piloted Dr. Fager when that colt lowered the world record for one mile (1:32.20).
The names of horses ridden by Baeza reads like a Who's Who of racing. In addition to Dr. Fager and Buckpasser he rode Arts and Letters, Susan's Girl, Affectionately, Damascus, Foolish Pleasure, Arts and Letters, and Gallant Bloom - all members of the Hall of Fame.
Baeza was five times the leading money-winning jockey of the year (1965-68 and 1975). He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976 and won the Woolf Award in 1968.
5. When Jorge Velasquez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990, he was introduced by The Master himself, jockey Eddie Arcaro.
For years, Velasquez was popular with New York bettors, who would yell "Georgie" as he paraded on to the track. He rode for more than three decades and was the nation's leading rider in wins in 1967; money won in 1969; and stakes won in 1985.
Velasquez retired in 1997. He was the recipient of the Woolf Award in 1986.