Veteran rider Perry Ouzts, 56, earned career win number 5,600 at Turfway Park on March 18 when he rode Joe Six Pack, a 10-year-old gelding, to victory in the fourth race.
Ouzts currently ranks 18th among all riders by number of wins. Of those ahead of him on the list, only Russell Baze (1st), Ouzts’s cousin Earlie Fires (9th), Edgar Prado (11th), and Mario Pino (15th) are still active.
Ouzts overcame adversity to achieve 5,000 career wins four years ago after an on-track accident at Turfway left him with five fractured vertebrae and a compound fracture of his right forearm. He had already tallied 4,902 wins when his mount in the second race on Jan. 29, 2006, fell a quarter-mile from the finish line. The horse was not injured, but Ouzts was sidelined for 11 months, returning to ride in December and notching win 4,903 on Dec. 30. He hit the 5,000 mark on Aug. 21, 2007, at River Downs. After the fall meet at Turfway that year, he sat out another six months for further surgery related to the accident.
Ouzts grew up in Rivervale, Ark., riding horses with Fires, who’s already in racing’s Hall of Fame. He began his career at Beulah Park in 1973 and has been a consistent leader on the Ohio circuit ever since, holding a record 24 meet titles at River Downs and at least 11 at Beulah Park. He earned his first riding title at Turfway in the 2010 Fall Meet. Ouzts and his wife, Toni, live in Hebron, Ky.