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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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.