(from track report)
Edgar Prado is the 54th winner of the 2003 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, Santa Anita Park announced Thursday.Prado's award has been presented annually since 1950 to honor one of the greatest Thoroughbred jockeys in history. Prado, 37, will receive the award in a winner's circle ceremony at a date to be determined later in the meet.Born in Lima, Peru, on June 12,1967, Prado has won 4,693 races with purses of $112,218,878. He enjoyed his greatest year in 2002 while winning 289 races and finishing second in purse earnings with $18,027,329. He also won the Saratoga riding title with 54 wins and guided Sarava to a stunning victory at 70-1 odds in the Belmont Stakes.The Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character reflect positively on themselves and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. Since 1985, jockeys nationwide have voted to determine the winner.Prado was nominated for the 2003 Woolf Award along with riders Robert Colton, David Flores, Richard Migliore and Mario Pino."It's amazing," Prado said. "I've achieved a lot of things, and winning this award kind of caps it. I want to thank the jockeys for voting, and the owners and trainers for giving me the opportunities to ride."Recognized as one of the hardest working talents in the game, Prado has made a steady rise to national prominence. He dominated Maryland racing in the 1990s while leading the state in victories five straight years, topped with a remarkable 536 wins in 1997. Prado shifted his base to New York in 1999 and made an immediate impact by being the second-leading rider at Saratoga with 36 wins.Prado's mounts earned $12,375,107 in 2000, $14,133,395 in 2001, and over $18 million last year when he finished second to Jerry Bailey in the national rankings. A leading rider in Peru before coming to the United States in 1986, Prado says he thrives on competition. He likes to ride seven or eight horses a day and has a simple strategy on horseback."If the horse wins, that's great," he said. "If the horse loses, I want to be able to say that I gave the horse its best chance to win. The most important thing is gaining the confidence of the owners and trainers."Prado won 1,000 races over a two-year span in 1997-98 to join former Woolf Award winners Chris McCarron and Kent Desormeaux as the only riders to accomplish the feat. Prado received the Federico Tesio Achievement Award in 1990, and won the NTRA All-Star Jockey Championship on June 23, 2000 at Lone Star Park.He and his wife, Lilliana, have a daughter, Patricia, and two sons, Edgar Jr. and Luis.Prado said he is looking forward to his trip to California to accept the Woolf Award."Winning the title at Saratoga was great, winning the Belmont was exciting, and now the Woolf Award," he said. "There are so many good things that have happened to me." Known as "The Iceman," Woolf died at Santa Anita on Jan. 3, 1946 after he fell off W.W. Taylor's Please Me rounding the clubhouse turn, struck the ground headfirst and never regained consciousness.The Woolf Award trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of Woolf that was created through donations from the racing public after his untimely death. The statue of Woolf has a place of honor in the Santa Anita Paddock Gardens. Past winners include Bill Shoemaker (1951), Eddie Arcaro (1953), Laffit Pincay Jr. (1970), Angel Cordero Jr. (1972), McCarron (1980), Pat Day (1985), Bailey (1992), Desormeaux (1993), Gary Stevens (1996), and Russell Baze (2002).