Canadian jockey Robert Landry has been named the recipient of the 2003 Avelino Gomez Memorial Award.Naned for the Cuban-born rider who died of complications after a three-horse accident in the 1980 Canadian Oaks, the award is given to the person -- Canadian-born, Canadian-raised or regular rider in the country for more than five years -- who has made significant contributions to the sport.The award is presented annually on (Labatt Woodbine) Oaks day (Sunday, June 8 in 2003) at Woodbine Racecourse. "I used to run down to the fence to watch Avelino in the post parade because he was such a character," said Landry, second only to David Clark and Richard Dos Ramos in years of service among Woodbine regulars. "He had such a great wit about him. But he was also a great rider, too. I loved watching him compete. I loved the way he'd dismount after he won a race. I can still remember the way he jumped into the air and landed on his feet. I often thought about doing that myself. But it just didn't seem right. It was his."The enormity of the award isn't lost on Landry, a rider who has made his own mark on the racetrack and within the community."I just look at all the names of the other people that have won this in the past and it puts into perspective," said the 40-year-old Toronto native, who has amassed 1,703 wins and over $47-million in lifetime purse earnings. "I'm truly humbled by this. It means a great deal to me."Landry began his career in the saddle in 1981, winning his first race aboard Hammy Hubert on June 21, 1981 at Fort Erie. And while he enjoyed success in the irons, his first 10 years as a jockey produced a fair share of trials and tribulations. Yet Landry never yielded to self-doubt, reassuring himself the best was yet to come.It was late in the 1992 season when Landry emerged as one of Canada's top riders, scoring his first title at the Greenwood Autumn meet. The following year, he won a Sovereign Award as the nation's top jockey, duplicating the feat again in 1994.
In addition to accomplishments within racing, including a stirring victory aboard Sam-Son Farm's Quiet Resolve in the 1999 Atto Mile and Catch The Ring in the 2000 edition of the Canadian Oaks, Landry has also made an impact in his many charitable endeavors. He participates in the annual Canadian Sports Hall of Fame golf tournament and donates his time to Community and to the Special Olympics."Seeing kids happy is a wonderful thing and having the ability to help out is a genuine honor for me," said Landry. "If I have a bad day at the races, I just put everything into perspective. I've been very blessed in my career and my life."Landry joins Ron Turcotte, John Longden, Sandy Hawley, the late Don MacBeth, the late Chris Rogers, Jeff Fell, Lloyd Duffy, Hugo Dittfach, Robin Platts, Larry Attard, Don Seymour, David Gall, Richard Grubb, Irwin Driedger, David Clark, Jim McKnight, Chris Loseth and Richard Dos Ramos as Gomez honorees.