Robby Albarado, who was named the winner of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award on Thursday, reflected on the accomplishment Saturday morning at Fair Grounds. Albarado is currently the leading rider at the New Orleans track.
He won the meet title for the fourth time last year with 102 wins. He won three titles in a row from the 1997-98 season through the 1999-2000 meet.
"It's a great milestone. I never thought I'd be nominated, much less win," he said. "It makes you feel good about yourself. I'm glad the other riders think I'm doing something positive in the jock's room."
Since 1985, jockeys nationwide have voted to determine the winner. The Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character reflect positively on themselves and Thoroughbred racing.
"The jockey colony is like a big family," Albarado said. "These guys know the other riders better than anybody. That's what makes it that much more special to me."
Mineshaft's trainer, Neil Howard, also praised the regular rider on Horse of the Year favorite Mineshaft, Albarado.
"He typifies the word 'professional,' " Howard said. "The more you hang around him, the more you see why he won the award. He watches Pat Day very closely, not so much for the way he rides, but the way Pat handles himself.
"With Robby, you never have to worry," Howard said. "He's a gentleman, win, lose, or draw. The award is well deserved."
Albarado, 30, will receive the award in a winner's circle ceremony at a date to be determined later in the Santa Anita meet.
Born in Lafayette, La., on Sept. 11, 1973, Albarado has won more than 2,800 races and purses of more than $80 million. He enjoyed one of his best years in 2003 while winning 185 races and finishing 11th nationally in earnings. He rode Mineshaft to seven wins in nine starts, including four grade I triumphs.
Others nominated for the 2004 Woolf Award were Gary Baze, Julie Krone, Randall Meier, and Richard Migliore.
George Woolf died during the running of the fourth race at Santa Anita on Jan. 3, 1946. Known as "The Iceman," Woolf fell off W.W. Taylor's Please Me rounding the clubhouse turn, struck the ground headfirst and never regained consciousness.