Veteran jockey Perry Ouzts reached a milestone Dec. 13 when he rode in his 46,000th career race in the sixth at Turfway Park.
With the feat, Ouzts now only trails Russell Baze and Laffit Pincay Jr. in number of mounts.
"It's kind of like traveling almost twice around the world on horseback," Ouzts said. "That's about how many miles I've traveled. There's only one person I know of who loves to ride as much as I do, and that's Russell Baze. I love to win. The rest of it—the rest of the races, working horses in the morning—that's work. But winning? There's nothing like it. It doesn't matter what kind of race it is. I get the same feeling every time."
The milestone ride came one race after his mount in the fifth race, Runaway Dan, bolted sideways out of the gate and forced another horse against the rail, unseating its rider and Ouzts. Neither rider was injured.
Ouzts is one of 16 jockeys in history to win at least 6,000 races; through Dec. 13 his win total stands at 6,184, including the fourth race Dec. 13 aboard Dakota Dim. He hit the 6,000-win milestone on Sept. 29, 2012, at Turfway.
"I'd really, really like to get past my cousin Earlie Fires in wins. He's got 6,470, so it's doable. But then I'll probably go on for seven (thousand)."
Ouzts grew up in Rivervale, Ark., riding horses with Fires, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001 and is 11th on the all-time win list. Ouzts won his first race in 1973 at Beulah Park aboard a horse named Rablu and has been a consistent leader on the Ohio circuit ever since, holding a record 24 meet titles from River Downs and at least 11 from Beulah Park. He also owns one riding title from Turfway.