01/04/2017 10:26AM

Ouzts, 62, getting push for Hall of Fame consideration

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Jonh C. Engelhardt/Coady Photography
Perry Ouzts, 62, has won 6,712 races, putting him 11th on the all-time list.

Turfway Park will recognize the remarkable career of Perry Ouzts during a ceremony between races Friday night at the northern Kentucky track. Perry Ouzts Day is an effort to heighten awareness of a fan-driven initiative to get the 62-year-old jockey into the Racing Hall of Fame.

With 6,712 career victories, Ouzts ranks 11th all time among North American jockeys and third among active riders behind only Edgar Prado (6,932) and Mario Pino (6,777).

“Turfway is proud to honor Perry and support efforts to see him nominated to the Hall of Fame,” Turfway general manager Chip Bach said in a track release. “The effort has been entirely fan-driven, a true testimony to Perry’s popularity with fans, bettors, and horsemen alike.”

Ouzts will be honored after the fourth race, which is set for 7:42 p.m. Eastern. First post for a nine-race card is 6:15.

Local racing fan Nadia Greenidge began a drive last year that resulted in a petition being sent to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., asking that Ouzts be considered for nomination. More signatures will be collected Friday night.

“He’s a great jockey and a gentleman, and he absolutely belongs,” Greenidge said in the Turfway release.

Through last weekend, Ouzts had ridden in 48,900 races, with career mount earnings of $42.6 million. Only Russell Baze, the all-time leader in wins with 12,842, has ridden more races (53,578) than Ouzts. Baze retired last June at age 57. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez has the highest career mount earnings with more than $357 million.

Ouzts has remained very active in recent years, competing primarily at Turfway and Belterra Park in Cincinnati. In 2016, he won 158 races from 974 mounts.

Ouzts, whose career began in 1973 at the now-defunct Beulah Park, was the subject of the documentary “Ironman Perry Ouzts,” which won the 2015 Eclipse Award for television feature for directors Brad and John Hennegan. A native of Riverdale, Ark., Ouzts lives in nearby Hebron, Ky., with his wife, Toni. The couple has two sons.

The Friday night event also will feature a silent auction, with all proceeds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Fridays are particularly popular with local racegoers, with reduced concession prices and live music being offered.

◗ The first of eight stakes at the winter-spring meet comes Saturday night with the 35th running of the $50,000 Wintergreen Stakes. Thirty-six fillies and mares were nominated to the one-mile Polytrack race, so Turfway racing officials were expecting a sizable field when entries were released Wednesday afternoon.