04/12/2015 7:16PM

Luzzi receives George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey Mike Luzzi was a gracious recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award at Santa Anita on Sunday, taking the opportunity to state he is anxious to return from a lengthy absence caused by injury.

Luzzi has not ridden since November, when he broke a leg and fractured his pelvis in an accident in the paddock at Aqueduct.

“This is the best day I’ve ever had when I’m not riding,” he said during a brief winner’s circle ceremony. “It was a shock to win the award.”

Turning to a group of Southern California riders, some active and others retired, surrounding him, Luzzi said, “I’ll see you in the jockey’s room.”

Luzzi, 45, has won 3,420 races in his career and won the Eclipse Award as the outstanding apprentice of 1989.

He said the Woolf Award had special meaning since his grandfather, Buddy Raines, knew George Woolf, who died as a result of injuries sustained in a spill at Santa Anita in 1946.

The Woolf Award is presented annually by Santa Anita and the Jockey’s Guild in honor of a rider for accomplishments on the track and for character shown off the track.

Three former winners of the award were present for Sunday’s ceremony – retired jockey Manuel Ycaza (1964) and active riders Gary Stevens (1996) and Alex Solis (1997).