From Santa Anita
Dean Kutz is the winner of the 2001 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. Kutz becomes the 52nd winner of the award that has been presented annually since 1950 and honors the memory of one of the greatest Thoroughbred jockeys in history. Kutz, 44, will receive the award in a winner's circle ceremony on Sunday, March 25.
A native of Harvey, N.D., Kutz has won 2,773 races from 21,354 mounts for $32,552,529 in earnings. He was born with only one kidney (which failed in 1984) and underwent a transplant procedure that year, receiving a kidney donated by his sister. Kutz resumed riding in 1985 and had a career year in 1998, as he earned the Turfway Park winter/spring riding title with 62 wins for earnings of $1,501,363.
The Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character reflect positively on themselves and the sport of Thoroughbred racing and is prized as one of racing's most prestigious accolades. Since 1985, jockeys nationwide have voted to determine the winner.
Kutz was nominated for the Woolf Award along with riders Anthony Black, David Flores and Edgar Prado by the Jockeys' Guild and Santa Anita Park.
"I'm thrilled to have been voted as the Woolf Award winner by my fellow jockeys," said Kutz from his farm in Versailles, Ky., where he resides with fiancé Nancy Baker. "To be recognized by my peers like this is truly an honor.
"It's been a tough couple of years but I'm hopeful to return to riding again soon," Kutz said through his mechanical voicebox, adding, "I'm too young to quit."
Kutz underwent surgery in March of 1999 to remove a cancerous tumor in his throat and lost his larynx during the procedure.
Woolf died as a result of the running of the fourth race at Santa Anita on Jan. 3, 1946. Known as "The Iceman," Woolf 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, and his likeness is admired daily by thousands of fans as it looks out toward the paddock.
Past winners include Bill Shoemaker (1951), Eddie Arcaro (1953), Laffit Pincay Jr. (1970), Angel Cordero Jr. (1972), Chris McCarron (1980), Pat Day (1985), Jerry Bailey (1992), Kent Desormeaux (1993), Eddie Maple (1995) and Gary Stevens (1996).