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2013 SANTA ANITA GEORGE WOOLF FINALISTS ANNOUNCED, PRESTIGIOUS AWARD RECOGNIZES CHARACTER & ABILITY
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 6, 2012)—Santa Anita Park announced on Thursday a list of five finalists for the 64th annual Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, with the winner to be announced on HRTV in January.
Javier Castellano, Perry Compton, David Flores, Mario Pino and Rodney Prescott have been selected as finalists for the 2013 Woolf Award, 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 top big-money jockeys of his era, was affectionately known as “The Iceman,” and was revered by his colleagues, members of the media and fans across America as a fierce competitor and consummate professional who was at his best when the stakes were highest.
The 2013 Woolf Award ballot includes five veteran riders who have earned the respect of their peers, horsemen, fans and media through hard work, dedication and athleticism. Together, they have accounted for more than 19,400 North American wins.
Javier Castellano, a native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, has established himself as one of America’s elite top jockeys since coming to the United States in 1997.
Born Oct. 23, 1977, Castellano is the son of a former jockey and he began riding full-time in Venezuela in 1996.
Based on the East Coast, Castellano was thrust into national prominence when he guided the Bobby Frankel-trained Ghostzapper to victory in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. He was back in the national spotlight when he won the 2006 Preakness Stakes aboard Bernardini.
A winner of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita with French-bred Zagora on Nov. 2, Castellano, 35, has now amassed more than 3,250 wins, and is currently second to 2012 Woolf Award winner Ramon Dominguez in purse money-won for 2012, with more than $21.5 million to his credit.
At 5’8’’ tall, Perry Compton is taller than your average jockey, and although he’s not a household name, the South Dakota native now has more than 40 years of riding experience in a career that has been marked by hard work, honesty, and dedication.
Born June 8, 1952 in Redfield, North Dakota, Compton took out his first jockey license while in high school in 1969, at age 17. He soon broke his maiden on a horse named Rhythm Peel, at Park Jefferson, a half-mile bullring.
At age 60, Compton has ridden extensively throughout the Midwest over the course of his career. In 2005, largely as a result of his many years of success at the now-shuttered Aksarben Race Track, he was inducted into the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame.
“If there was something else I would rather be doing, I would be doing it,” said Compton in an interview at Hawthorne Race Course in 2005. “I have no set plans to retire. I intend to be a jockey as long as I enjoy it and I’m physically able.”
Compton’s wife, Dixie, runs a small farm the couple own near Columbus, Nebraska, which serves as a training center for young horses. They have two children, a daughter, Jayde, 28, and a son, Trysten, who is 17.
Through Dec. 4, Compton had 3,694 career winners.
Long regarded as one of Southern California’s top jockeys, David Flores broke his maiden south of the border in his native Tijuana, Mexico, at Agua Caliente Racetrack on March 5, 1984. Known for his level temperament and cool under fire, his career breakthrough came in 1991 when victorious aboard Marquetry in the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup, which would prove to be his first of his ten $1 million stakes wins.
Now 44 years of age, Flores has won three Breeders’ Cup races; the 2001 Juvenile Fillies aboard Tempera, the 2003 Juvenile on Action This Day, and the 2004 Mile with Singeltary. A winner of 3,483 races through Dec. 4, Flores has for many years hosted his own charity golf tournament each summer, which has been instrumental in raising money for underprivileged, “Orphans of Tijuana.”
Flores has also been an indispensable supporter of Santa Anita’s annual “Holy Angels (middle school) vs. Santa Anita Jockeys” charity basketball game, held every winter to benefit the Holy Angels School athletic department and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
Maryland’s all-time leading jockey, Mario Pino, who won his first race on Jan. 16, 1979, at Bowie Racecourse, became the 10th winningest jockey in racing history on Sept. 18, as he passed Hall of Famer Earlie Fires by notching his 6,471st victory at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pennsylvania.
As the regular rider of top 3-year-old Hard Spun in 2007, Pino, 51, gained national notice by finishing second in that year’s Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness aboard the Larry Jones trainee. Although he lost the mount on Hard Spun for the Belmont Stakes, Pino was back aboard later that year for victories in the Grade I King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga and the Grade II Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. He would go on to guide Hard Spun to a runner-up finish behind eventual Horse of the Year Curlin in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
One of the most highly respected jockeys in America, Pino’s career has been marked by consistency. He has never won fewer than 141 races in a year and he has topped 200 wins on 12 occasions, with his highest total coming in 2001, when he booted home 297 winners.
Born Sept. 8, 1961, in West Grove, Pennsylvania, Pino and his wife, Christina, have three daughters and reside in Ellicott City, Maryland, where he devotes much of his time to coaching youth sports.
Known as one of the most competitive riders in the Midwest, 38-year-old Rodney Prescott was America’s second-leading jockey in 2005 with 340 wins and his resume’ includes multiple riding titles at Hoosier Park in Indiana, as well as leading rider honors at Turfway Park in Kentucky and at Indiana Downs.
A native of Portland, Indiana, Prescott was born March 8, 1974. After working initially as a groom, he broke his maiden in June of 1994 at River Downs, in Cincinnati.
Hoosier Park’s all-time leader, Prescott picked up his 2,000th career win there on Oct. 18, 2006 and is now closing in on 3,000 career victories. Through Dec. 4, his win total stood at 2,990.
“I just go out there and win as many races as I can,” said Prescott in a Hoosier Park interview in 2006. “I don’t really shoot for anything or any goal to start off a season.”
Prescott lives in Cincinnati with his wife, Beth Anne and their two children, Anna and Austin.