Jockey Perry Ouzts Reaches 4,500-Win Mark

(from Turfway Park report)
Veteran jockey Perry Ouzts won his 4,500th race Sunday at muddy Turfway Park after riding Private Ambition to a 1 3/4-length victory in the third race, a $5,000 claiming event.

"Winning," Ouzts said, summing up in one word what he most enjoys about riding after 31 years in the saddle. "It's been a lot of work, but I still enjoy it. Well, on a day like this you don't enjoy working too much. And especially after the other day with Mike (Rowland]) That hits pretty close to home."

Rowland was critically injured in a three-horse accident at Turfway last Wednesday and remains hospitalized at University Hospital in Cincinnati. He was close to his 4,000th win when the accident occurred.

"Mike and I were both working on it," Ouzts said of Rowland. "We were both getting excited about getting close to a milestone. He lacked two wins, I lacked one. We're back in the same corner of the jocks' room, got the same valet, got the same agent. I've known him for 20 years. We're really good friends. It hurts – a lot."

An Arkansas native, Ouzts, 49, grew up riding horses with his cousin, Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires. He was 18 years old when he started his professional career at Ohio's Beulah Park in 1973 and has consistently been among the leaders on the Ohio circuit ever since.

He has been the leading rider at River Downs an unprecedented 18 times and has won 11 titles at Beulah. He rode for years at Turfway when it was called Latonia and twice was second-leading rider. He returned to Turfway in 2003 and finished 10th in the standings during the 22-day fall meet. He ranked 37th by wins among jockeys nationwide for 2003.

Ouzts reached the 4,000-win milestone in 2001. Asked about the future, Ouzts said, "My goal right now is to hit 5,000 and then we'll go from there."

(Chart, Equibase)

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