Ramon Dominguez, Corey Lanerie, Martin Pedroza, DeShawn Parker, and Scott Stevens are the finalists for the 63rd annual George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2012, Santa Anita Park announced Nov. 23.
The winner is to be determined by a vote of jockeys nationwide. The Woolf Award has been presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950 and is regarded as one of the most prestigious honors in all of racing. It recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. The winner’s trophy is a replica of the life-sized statue of George Woolf, which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
Woolf, who was regarded as one of the top big-money jockeys of his era, was affectionately known as “The Iceman.” He was revered by his colleagues, members of the media and fans across America as a fierce competitor and consummate professional who was at his best when the stakes were highest.
The 2012 Woolf Award ballot features five veteran riders who have jointly accounted for more than 19,000 wins.
As North America’s Eclipse Award-winning jockey in 2010, Dominguez led all riders with $18,591,756 in purse earnings. Born Nov. 24, 1976 in Caracas, Venezuela, New York-based Dominguez began riding at Hialeah Park in Florida in 1996. Dominguez also led all North American jockeys by races won in 2001 and 2003. He has won 13 NYRA riding titles dating back to 2007-08.
Lanerie, a Louisiana native who has become a fixture at Churchill Downs and at Fairgrounds in New Orleans, won his 3,000th career race Feb. 3. He has won riding titles at three tracks in Texas, Lone Star Park, Sam Houston and Retama Park, and has also been leading rider at Ellis Park in Kentucky.
Regarded as one of the fiercest competitors of his era, Pedroza has been a frequent top 10 rider at all of Southern California’s major tracks since 1983. A 46-year-old native of Panama City, Panama, he has won more than 3,000 career races on the highly competitive circuit. The all-time leading rider at Fairplex Park in Pomona, Pedroza has won an unprecedented 14 riding titles 682 victories over that track’s five-eighths mile bullring.
At five feet 10 inches, DeShawn Parker doesn’t look like a jockey to most people. A 42-year-old Cincinnati native based at West Virginia’s Mountaineer Park, he led all North American riders with 377 wins in 2010 and is on pace take his second national riding crown in 2011. He is the first champion African American jockey since 1895.
Best known as the older brother of Hall of Fame retired jockey Gary Stevens, Scott Stevens, 50, registered his 4,000th career win March 18 at Turf Paradise, in Phoenix, Az. An Idaho native, Stevens began his career in 1976 at Le Bois Park in Boise and has ridden regularly at Canterbury Park in Minnesota, Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Canada, Emerald Downs, and briefly, in California.
Stevens, inducted into the Canterbury Park and Idaho racing Halls of Fame, he has overcome several life-threatening injuries and has long been active in support of his fellow riders.