(from Santa Anita Park release)
Mark Guidry, a Louisiana native who began riding in 1974 and has won more that 4,700 races, was selected the winner of the 2006 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by his fellow jockeys.Guidry, 46, is the 57th recipient of the award presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950 to honor the memory of one of the greatest Thoroughbred jockeys of all time. The Woolf Award will be presented to Guidry on March 12."This is the icing on the cake. It ranks way over any other accomplishments that I've had in my career," said Guidry. "This is something you only dream about. It's unbelievable ... I'm very, very appreciative. I still can't believe it."The Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character reflect positively on themselves and on the sport of Thoroughbred racing. Since 1985, jockeys nationwide have voted to determine the winner. Guidry, who was born Aug. 6, 1959 in Lafayette, Louisiana, was quick to acknowledge his early upbringing as a major force in his career. "Through the years a lot of riders from Louisiana have won the award, guys like Craig Perret (1998), Eddie Delahoussaye (1981), Kent Desormeaux (1993), Robby Albarado (2004), and Ray Sibille (2005)."I think a lot of it has to do with the way we were raised. We were taught to respect others, to treat others like you want to be treated. That kind of stuff is pounded into you growing up ... but the individual has to open up his heart and make the right choices. I've made some bad ones, but I've tried to learn from my mistakes and do the right thing."Like many of his fellow Cajuns, Guidry began riding at an early age. At 9, he got his first race riding experience at bush tracks and won his first recognized race at the age of 16, aboard Tempermental Tom at Delta Downs.Hall of Fame jockey Delahoussaye was elated to hear Guidry had been voted as the winner of this year's Woolf Award. "Mark's a credit to the riders that come out of Louisiana. He's a dedicated rider who works real hard. He can do just about anything on a horse. He's a good guy. He's a really good rider, and he's a credit to the sport. I'm happy for him."Guidry was nominated for the Woolf Award along with Victor Espinoza, David Flores, Randy Meier, and Richard Migliore.Guidry rode in Louisiana until 1986 when he moved his tack to Fairmount Park in Illinois and stayed on the Chicago circuit.He quickly became a dominant force in Chicago, where he was a seven-time leading rider at Hawthorne, a nine-time leader at Sportsman's Park, and a two-time leader at Arlington International.Guidry's mounts earned a career best $7,668,679 in 2005 and his top mounts included Buzzard's Bay, who won the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), and Perfect Drift, with whom he won the Washington Park Handicap (gr. II). Guidry has also ridden such top horses throughout his career as Black Tie Affair, Buck's Boy, Polar Expedition, Megans Bluff, Nite Dreamer, Chrysalis House, Celtic Melody, Balto Star, San Dare, Offlee Wild, Deputy Warlock, Political Attack, Riskaverse, Roses in May, and Sand Springs.Guidry resides in Louisville, Ky., with his wife, Tina, and has three children: Fallon, Marcus, and Mecus. He is currently riding full-time at Gulfstream Park in Florida and will shift his base of operation back to Kentucky later this spring.