ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 24, 2015)–Mike Luzzi, America’s Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey in 1989, has been named the winner of the 2015 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by a nationwide vote of his peers.
A 45-year-old native of Wilmington, Delaware, Luzzi has stood the test of time and has enjoyed a highly successful career riding primarily in the Mid-Atlantic region, Maryland and New York. It is expected that Luzzi will travel west to Santa Anita to accept the award in either March or April.
Sidelined due to a broken leg and fractured pelvis sustained in a paddock accident at Aqueduct on Nov. 2, Luzzi outpolled four other finalists; James Graham, Leslie Mawing, Corey Nakatani and the recently retired Rosie Napravnik.
Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950, the Woolf Award is one of the most highly coveted honors in all of racing as it recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for both the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
Born Oct. 27, 1969, Luzzi was raised in-part by his grandfather, legendary trainer Buddy Raines, who also trained one of Luzzi’s biggest early stakes winners–Timely Warning, with whom Luzzi won the 1991 Maryland Million Classic at Pimlico and Grade I Brooklyn Handicap at Aqueduct. Luzzi was also the winner of New York’s prestigious Mike Venezia Memorial Jockey Award in 2001.
With 26,540 career mounts, Luzzi has won 3,420 races and his mounts have generated purse earnings of $108,218,039.
Luzzi and his wife Tania reside in Floral Park, New York, and they have a daughter, Larue, 14, and son, Lane, 16, who is preparing to become a jockey.
The Woof Award was created to honor and memorialize the legendary jockey George “the Iceman” Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big money riders of his time. Woolf died following a spill, which has often been attributed to the effects of diabetes, on Santa Anita’s Club House turn Jan. 3, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
The inaugural Woolf Award winner, which was determined by a vote of the Racing Press, was Gordon Glisson. Last year’s Woolf Award was won by Corey Lanerie.