Jockey Perry Ouzts passed Jerry Bailey for 17th on the all-time win list with a win at River Downs June 17 and couldn't resist tweaking the Hall of Fame rider a little bit.
“Now that does mean something special because he won most of his races on Cadillacs," said Ouzts after his 5,894th career victory came in the fifth race at River Downs. "I had to work for my wins.”
Ouzts broke on top with Lucky Dan in the tie-breaking triumph and never looked back.
The statistics certainly bear out the difference in the quality of horses ridden by the two jockeys. In 30,856 mounts Bailey’s horses accrued $296,113,529, while Ouzts has ridden in 44,321 races for earnings of $35,209,787.
“When he started out he could have been a leading rider in Chicago, New York, or anyplace, he is just that good,” trainer Ken McPeek, who also started his career at River Downs, said of Ouzts. “Perry just liked to stay close to home. He’s one of the best.”
Ouzts’ biggest career win came aboard Old Man Buck in the $200,000 Cradle Stakes at River Downs in 2007, a horse he rode for McPeek.
After a winning hug from his tear-filled wife Toni and posing for photos, his agent Jamie Fowler handed him a phone. It was Billy Hays, whose silks the 57-year-old Ouzts was wearing, congratulating him for his achievement. Ouzts has teamed up with Hays and trainer Joe Woodard to win the last three meet titles at River Downs. Ouzts himself has won 26 riding titles at the Cincinnati oval.
Heading back to the jockeys quarters the exceptionally large crowd of Father’s Day fans shouted out support for a jockey who won his first race aboard Rablue at Beulah Park on April 2, 1973 for trainer W.J. Danner.
Upon entering the jock’s room he was greeted warmly with hugs from several of his fellow riders. He currently leads all jockeys at the meet with 42 wins. A model of consistency throughout his career, he has 5,645 seconds and 5,452 third-place finishes in addition to his wins.