Finalists for 2004 Woolf Award Announced

Robby Albarado, Gary Baze, Julie Krone, Randall Meier and Richard Migliore have been nominated for the 2004 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, Santa Anita Park announced this week.

Now in its 54th year, the Woolf Award memorializes the jockey known as "The Iceman," who died in a tragic spill at Santa Anita in 1946. The award recognizes Thoroughbred jockeys whose careers have reflected credit on themselves and their sport.

Past winners include Hall of Fame members Bill Shoemaker, Eddie Arcaro, Laffit Pincay Jr., Angel Cordero Jr., Chris McCarron, Eddie Delahoussaye, Pat Day, Jerry Bailey and Gary Stevens.

Since 1985, jockeys from across the nation have voted to select the winner from nominations made by the Jockeys' Guild and Santa Anita Park. The 2004 winner will be announced in January.

The five nominees have won over 16,000 races between them, and each has enjoyed a fine career while earning the respect of their peers. Edgar Prado was voted the 2003 Woolf Award.

Albarado, the regular rider of the recently retired Mineshaft, a leading candidate for Horse of the Year, had 2,779 career wins through Oct. 8. The 30-year-old native of Lafayette, Louisiana, won his first career race on June 29, 1990, at Evangeline Downs and rapidly established himself as a world-class rider.

Baze, 47, has won 3,312 races in a 30-year-career that includes a record six riding titles at defunct Longacres near Seattle. The Washington native has won the Northwest's signature race, the Longacres Mile, a record five times.

Krone, 40, is the only woman in racing's Hall of Fame. She returned to riding on Nov. 1, 2002, after a 3 ½-year retirement. Through Oct. 8, the popular Benton Harbor, Michigan, native had won 3,664 races, including five on Oct. 4 at Santa Anita, which moved her to the top of the jockey standings at the current Oak Tree meeting.

Migliore, who will be 40 on March 14, 2004, has ridden 3,794 winners and is one of racing's finest representatives, not only as a jockey but also as a person.

Meier, 49, is a 31-year riding veteran and the all-time leading jockey at both Sportsman's Park and Hawthorne Race Course. The Nebraska native has spent the last 23 years riding almost exclusively in Chicago, a decision that lent stability to his growing family. Meier has won 3,723 races while overcoming numerous spills, including one in 1997 at Hawthorne that left him with two broken legs and a broken wrist. He missed over a year of action.

Woolf has gone down in modern turf history as one of the greatest stakes riders of all time. He won the Belmont Futurity three consecutive years, 1942-44, and piloted legendary horses Seabiscuit (1938), Kayak II (1939) and Challendon (1940) to wins in the Hollywood Gold Cup.