Jockey Stewart Elliott was named the 2010 recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award June 1.
The Gomez Award is given to a Canadian-born, Canadian-raised, or regular rider in the country for more than five years who has made significant contributions to the sport.
Presented annually on Woodbine Oaks Day (June 13) at Woodbine, the honor is in memory of a Cuban-born rider who died of complications after a three-horse accident in the 1980 Canadian Oaks.
As a lasting reminder of his contributions, a life-size statue of Gomez, who called Toronto home and raised a family there, overlooks Woodbine's walking ring. A replica is presented to each year's honoree. Elliot plans on returning to Toronto to receive the Gomez Award June 13.
Elliott has worked tirelessly at his craft over the years. On May 13, 2003, he recorded his 3,000th career win, reaching the 4,000-win plateau Jan. 18, 2009, at Philadelphia Park. He has 4,185 career wins through May 31, 2010.
For all the awards and honors he's received over the years, including his high-profile Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I) triumphs with fan favorite Smarty Jones in 2004, Elliott regards the Gomez Award as one of his most cherished accolades.
"I was so surprised when I got the call," said Elliott in a release. "It was the last thing I ever expected. But I am so honored and so thrilled to receive this award. I certainly have a lot of respect for the riders who have won it in the past."
Born March 1, 1965, Elliott lived in Toronto until 1972 when he moved with his family to Hong Kong for six years, where his father Dennis rode. Upon returning to North America, Stewart Elliott began to think about a riding career. He won his first race at Keystone Park (now Philadelphia Park) Jan. 31, 1981 with Jack's Ruby.
"I've been pretty fortunate to have a good career," said Elliott in a statement. "Health-wise, I've been very lucky. To ride a horse like Smarty Jones and now to receive this, I'm just very grateful."