Mike Luzzi, America's Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey in 1989, has been named the winner of the 2015 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by a nationwide vote of his peers.
A 45-year-old native of Wilmington, Del., Luzzi has had a successful career riding primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region and New York.
Luzzi, who has been sidelined due to a broken leg and fractured pelvis sustained in a paddock accident at Aqueduct Racetrack last Nov. 2, Luzzi outpolled James Graham, Leslie Mawing, Corey Nakatani, and the recently retired Rosie Napravnik.
It is expected that Luzzi will be at Santa Anita Park to accept the award in either March or April.
Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950, the Woolf Award recognizes riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for both the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
Born Oct. 27, 1969, Luzzi was raised in part by his grandfather, legendary trainer Buddy Raines, who also trained one of Luzzi's biggest early stakes winners—Timely Warning, with whom Luzzi won the 1991 Maryland Million Classic at Pimlico Race Course and Brooklyn Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park. Luzzi was also the winner of New York's Mike Venezia Memorial Jockey Award in 2001.
With 26,540 career mounts, Luzzi has won 3,420 races and his mounts have generated purse earnings of $108,218,039.
Luzzi and his wife, Tania, reside in Floral Park, N.Y. They have a daughter, Larue, 14, and son, Lane, 16, who is preparing to become a jockey.
The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize the legendary jockey George "the Iceman" Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big-money riders of his time. Woolf died following a spill, which has often been attributed to the effects of diabetes, at Santa Anita Jan. 3, 1946.
The Woolf Award trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey that adorns Santa Anita's paddock garden area. The inaugural Woolf Award winner, which was determined by a media vote, was Gordon Glisson. Last year's Woolf Award was won by Corey Lanerie.