06/27/2007 12:00AM

Ouzts approaching 5,000 victories

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Only 21 jockeys in the history of horse racing have won 5,000 races. Perry Ouzts will soon join that elite club. Following Tuesday's card at River Downs, Ouzts is just 16 wins away from the 5,000 milestone.

Ouzts, who will turn 53 on July 7, has won the riding title 18 times at River Downs and 11 times at Beulah Park in a career that began with his first win in March 1973 at Beulah. He has ridden at 23 tracks, mostly in the Midwest, but considers River Downs his home.

"I won my 2,000th, 3,000th, and 4,000th here," Ouzts said, "and I really want to win my 5,000th here."

It is important to Ouzts that his wife, Toni, and sons Kyle and Tyler be on hand for the milestone win. "I couldn't have done it without them," he said.

River Downs is sponsoring a "Perry Ouzts quest for 5,000" contest. Limited to one entry per person, fans must pick the day Ouzts will get his 5,000th win.

The winner receives $500 in cash, two tickets for the Cradle Stakes tent, and a photo session with Ouzts. The winner must be present to claim the prize. Entries will be cut off when Ouzts is 10 away.