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SANTA ANITA 2011 GEORGE WOOLF FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 23, 2010)—Santa Anita Park announced on Thursday a list of five finalists for the 62nd annual Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, with the winner to be announced in January.
Joe Bravo, Javier Castellano, Garrett Gomez, Corey Lanerie and Gallyn Mitchell are the 2011 Woolf finalists, with the winner to be determined by a vote of jockeys nationwide.
The Woolf Award has been presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950 and is regarded as one of the most prestigious honors in all of racing, as it recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. The winner’s trophy is a replica of the life-sized statue of George Woolf, which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
The statue was created through donations from the racing public after Woolf’s death which followed a spill at Santa Anita on Jan. 13, 1946. Woolf, who was regarded as one of the nation’s top big-money jockeys, was affectionately known as “The Iceman,” and was revered by his colleagues, members of the media and fans nationwide as a fierce competitor and consummate professional who were at his best when the stakes were highest.
The 2011 Woolf Award ballot features some of the hardest working and most successful jockeys in the world and it also represents a broad geographic cross section of American racing.
For nearly 22 years, Joe Bravo has been synonymous with winning in his native New Jersey, as he’s won nine riding titles at Meadowlands Racetrack and 13 at Monmouth Park, dating back to the early 1990s.
Born on Sept. 10, 1971, Bravo first rode professionally at Calder Race Course in south Florida, at the age of 17, in the fall of 1988.
A third generation jockey, Bravo got his first big career break in 1997, when he was the regular rider of multiple stakes winning Formal Gold. Bravo’s dominance in New Jersey is underscored by his success in the Jersey Shore Stakes at Monmouth, a race he has won five times, including three straight from 2004 through 2006.
Bravo is perennially amongst the nation’s leading money-winning jockeys and he won his 4,000th career race on July 5, 2007, at Monmouth Park. Through Nov. 6, Bravo had 4,522 wins and his mounts had earned $121,621,118.
Well respected by his peers nationwide, this is the first time Bravo has been a Woolf Award finalist.
A native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, 33-year-old Javier Castellano is the son of a former jockey who began riding full-time in 1966. He moved to the United States in 1997, where he became a regular on the South Florida circuit. Castellano was thrust into national prominence when victorious aboard Ghostzapper in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Lone Star Park. He was back in the national spotlight in 2006, when he won the Preakness Stakes aboard Bernardini, in a race that was marred by the early breakdown of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.
Born Oct. 23, 1977, Castellano’s career is still very much on the rise. He has ridden full-time in New York and Florida since 2001 and has had three five-win days at Saratoga Race Course, first on Sept. 7, 2004, again on Sept. 3, 2005, and he reeled off a natural five-in-a-row this past July 25.
Castellano’s career win total through Nov. 6 was 2,652. Included among those are 291 stakes wins. He registered his first added money score on Aug. 9, 1997, at Calder Race Course, aboard Governor Hicks in the Florida Stallion Dr. Fager Stakes. Castellano’s biggest career win came aboard Saratoga County in the $2 million Golden Shaheen Stakes on March 26, 2005 in Dubai. Consistently ranked amongst America’s top riders in both money and races won, Castellano’s career money-won total stood at $124,902,789, through Nov. 6.
Castellano’s father-in-law is long-time racing official and current National Director of the Jockeys’ Guild, Terry Meyocks.
Castellano resides in Garden City, New York, with his wife Abby and daughter, Kayla Marie.
Nicknamed “Go-Go” for his hard-charging style, Garrett Gomez is considered one of, if not the best, finishers in the game today. This ability was never more evident than in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6, as Gomez, nursing an injured shoulder, called upon every ounce of his strength and big-money savvy to win the Classic aboard Blame, holding the great Zenyatta off by less than a head.
Although he sustained the shoulder injury as a result of a spill at Churchill Downs on Thursday, Nov. 4, Gomez rebounded to not only win the Classic on Nov. 6, but he also won the Juvenile Fillies Turf aboard More than Real and the Juvenile Turf aboard Pluck, on Nov. 5 and 6, respectively.
The son of a jockey, Louie, and a native of Tucson, Arizona, Gomez has overcome personal problems and has established himself as one of the great riders of his era, as he has been America’s leading money-winning jockey for the past four years, in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Gomez, 37, broke his maiden at Santa Fe Downs, New Mexico on Aug. 19, 1988, and his career began to take off in the mid ‘90s, as he won back-to-back runnings of the Arkansas Derby in l994 and ’95. In l997, he won the “Mid-America Triple,” at Arlington Park in Chicago, by taking the American Derby, American Classic, and the Secretariat Stakes (his first Grade I), all aboard Honor Glide.
As a result of substance-abuse issues, his career went into free-fall in 2002, and Gomez did not ride for part of that year, and he was inactive in 2003 and 2004. However, with the assistance of his former agent Jim Pegram, Gomez returned to full-time riding late in 2004, and by the end of 2005, he had clearly established himself as one of the top big-money riders in America—as he won his first two Breeders’ Cup races that year, taking the Juvenile with Stevie Wonderboy and the Mile with Artie Schiller.
In addition to his accomplishments on the racetrack, “Go-Go” has earned the respect of the racing community by dealing with his personal problems in a forthright manner, and has contributed generously to charitable causes such as the California-based Winners’ Foundation.
At the suggestion of retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, Gomez hired top agent Ron Anderson in early 2006, a move that further facilitated Gomez’s ascension to the top of his profession.
Along with his Breeders’ Cup double in 2005 and three victories this year, Gomez has now amassed a total of 12 Breeders’ Cup wins: The 2007 Juvenile Fillies with Indian Blessing, the 2007 Sprint with Midnight Lute, and four championship wins in 2008, the Sprint with Midnight Lute, the Juvenile with Midshipman, the Filly and Mare Sprint with Ventura and the Dirt Mile Albertus Maximus. In 2009, Gomez won the Ladies Classic at Santa Anita with Life is Sweet.
Included among Gomez’s notable Grade I stakes wins are triumphs in the Santa Anita and Kentucky Oaks with Rags to Riches in 2007, the Santa Anita Derby with Pioneerof the Nile in 2009, the Norfolk and Del Mar Futurity with Lookin at Lucky in 2009, the Manhatten Handicap with Gio Ponti in 2009 and four scores in the Pacific Classic: in 2001and 2002 with Skimming, in 2005 with Borrego and in 2008 with Go Between.
Gomez and Anderson remained atop the racing world entering 2009, but by Dec. 1, it looked as though jockey Julien Leparoux had all but wrapped up the 2009 money-won title. However, “Go-Go” stayed busy, and, in a desperate lunge to the finish, was able to notch his fourth consecutive title by winning the last race of the year at Santa Anita on Dec. 31.
Gomez won his 3,000th career race on Sept. 28, 2008, taking the Grade II Oak Tree Mile aboard Hyperbaric. His career earnings through Nov. 6, stood at $175,569,567 and he had registered 3,416 career wins.
He resides in nearby Duarte with his wife Pam and children Jared, Amanda, Shelby and Collin.
A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Corey Lanerie made his mark as a jockey deep in the heart of Texas, as he was a major force in the jockey colony at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie from 1999 through 2003, taking home four riding titles during that period.
The son of a jockey and grandson of a trainer, Lanerie, who recently turned 36-years-old, was born to his profession. As a youngster he followed a time-tested Cajun tradition of riding at unrecognized “bush” tracks before he made his professional debut in 1991. He rode his first winner, High Hopes Banquet, at Evangeline Downs, on April 19, 1991.
In addition to multiple riding titles at Lone Star, Lanerie has also been a leading rider at two other Texas tracks, Sam Houston and Retama Park.
Lanerie currently plies his trade full-time in Kentucky during the summer and fall, and in Louisiana in the winter. His resume includes graded stakes victories at Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, Turfway Park, Woodbine, Oaklawn Park, Keeneland and Fairgrounds.
Lanerie’s most lucrative win to date came aboard Parade Leader in the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap at Fairgrounds in 2002. In terms of media exposure, his most high profile win came on Belmont Stakes day in 2003, as he won the Riva Ridge Breeders’ Cup Stakes at Belmont aboard Posse—a horse that he won a total of four stakes with that year.
Other notable mounts in Lanerie’s career include a win the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland aboard Hooh Why in 2009. He registered multiple wins aboard Gouldings Green, in the Grade III Turfway Park Fall Championship in 2009 and in the Grade III Hanshin Cup Handicap at Arlington Park in 2006. He also rode Gouldings Green to victory in the 2006 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Lanerie also guided Kodiak Kowboy to victory in the Grade III Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs in 2007 and he rode Olmodavor to win the Grade III Whilrlaway Handicap in 2004 at Fairgrounds in New Orleans.
Well liked and respected by his fellow riders and horsemen wherever he has ridden regularly, Lanerie is regarded as a hard working professional who has always availed himself to both the media and public.
Born Nov. 13, 1974, Lanerie makes his permanent residence in Metarie, Louisiana and lives with his wife Shantel and 2-year-old daughter Brettlyn Ava.
Lanerie is fast closing in on 3,000 career wins, and his total through Nov. 6, stood at 2,960. His money-won total through Nov. 6 was $64,818,817.
The 2011 Woolf Award marks the first time he has been a Woolf finalist.
At age 47, Gallyn Mitchell had another solid year in the Pacific Northwest, finishing third in the jockey standings at Emerald Downs, located near Seattle. Mitchell finished the 2010 season with 79 wins and his mounts accounted for $849,578 in earnings, enabling him to finish second in that category.
The epitome of a hard-working rider throughout his 29-year-career, Mitchell is a favorite among Northwest fans and horsemen, as he’s been based at Emerald since it opened in 1996. With 1,252 wins at the Auburn, Washington track, Mitchell is Emerald Downs’ all-time leading rider and he’s also Emerald’s all-time leading money winning rider, as his mounts have earned $12,710,057.
A native of Southern California, Mitchell was nicknamed “Booger” by his mother, a moniker that has followed him throughout his racing career.
Mitchell won the Pacific Northwest’s marquee race, the Longacres Mile, for the second time in 2009, aboard Assessment. He won his first Mile aboard Edneator, at 41-1, in the year 2000.
Mitchell and his wife of 22 years, Denise, have three children, all of whom are deeply involved with horses. Denise also serves as “Booger’s” agent, a role she has held since 1995. Together, they are atop the all-time stakes-won list at Emerald, with 67 added money triumphs.
Mitchell broke his maiden on Jan. 29, 1981 at Santa Anita and through Oct. 31, he had 2,520 wins and $19,060,249 in lifetime earnings.
In large part due to a family tragedy that befell long-time client and trainer Frank Lucarelli, whose son Tony died of brain cancer at age 16 in 2005, Mitchell heads at least one charity event a year, usually a golf tournament or a poker ride, either on horses or motorcycles.
Well respected by his peers, Mitchell is also a fierce competitor. “You’ve got to outride him, he won’t give you anything,” said leading jockey Ricky Frazier in 2008. “He’s very knowledgeable, rides his heart out and makes you ride better to beat him. It’s an honor to ride against him.”
The 2011 Woolf Award will be presented in late March or early April. Santa Anita’s 76-day winter/spring meeting begins Dec. 26. For more information, fans are encouraged to visit www.santaanita.com.