Santa Anita Park announced Dec. 9 a list of five finalists for the 61st annual Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, with the winner to be announced in January.
Calvin Borel, Garrett Gomez, Randall Meier, Gallyn Mitchell, and DeShawn Parker will face an electorate comprised of their peers and one of the five will be selected the recipient of the 2010 Woolf Award.
The Woolf Award has been presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950. It honors and 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-size statue of George Woolf, which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
The statue was created through donations from the racing public after Woolf’s death which followed a spill at Santa Anita Jan. 13, 1946. Woolf, who was regarded as one of the nation’s top big-money jockeys, was affectionately known as “The Iceman,” and was revered by both his colleagues and members of the media as a fierce competitor and consummate professional.
The 2010 Woolf Award ballot features some of the highest profile jockeys in the world and also represents a broad diversity of geographic regions.
• Throughout 2009, Louisiana-born Calvin Borel maintained the highest of profiles on racing’s biggest stages. Borel orchestrated a memorable last-to-first run aboard 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), one day after winning the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) by more than 19 lengths aboard superstar filly Rachel Alexandra.
• Garrett Gomez, nicknamed “Go-Go” for his hard-charging style, the son of a jockey, Louie, and a native of Tucson, Ariz., has overcome personal problems and established himself as one of the great riders of his era, as he has been America’s leading money-winning jockey for the past three years, in 2006-2008.
• Randy Meier, 55, a native of Nebraska and a fixture in the Chicago area for nearly 30 years, has overcome catastrophic injuries throughout his career and remains a force to be reckoned with at Hawthorne Race Course, where he is that track’s all-time winningest jockey. Meier, who won his 4,000th race in 2008 at Arlington Park, is also the all-time leading rider at the now shuttered Sportsman’s Park near Chicago.
• Gallyn Mitchell, 46, has become a fixture at Emerald Downs, outside of Seattle. Mitchell is the all-time leader at Emerald and is the only Emerald-based jockey to amass more than $10 million in career earnings.
• Like Mitchell and Gomez, DeShawn Parker, 38, will be a Woolf finalist for the first time in 2010. Parker has long been a fixture at Mountaineer Park, where he has won several riding titles and where he rode regularly for the late Dale Baird.