Ouzts still going strong at age 57

September 01, 2011 07:32am
Perry Ouzts pulls on the white pants and fastens them slowly. Either he hasn’t done this much before, or he’s in no hurry, seeing as it’s still well before first post on a Saturday morning at River Downs.

With more than 43,000 career mounts – fourth-most in North American racing history – it’s obvious Ouzts is just piddling around. “Same old, same old,” he said, as he climbed a flight of stairs to an empty jockeys’ room kitchen at this 86-year-old track.

Riding races, and the routine that comes with it, is pretty much all that Ouzts, 57, has ever known. Born and raised in Rivervale, Ark., alongside his second cousins, Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires and his younger brothers, Ouzts has gone on to carve out quite a niche for himself, albeit with precious little of the celebrity showered on the more famous jockeys of the last 40 years.

“Earlie’s dad and my grandmother were brother and sister,” said Ouzts. “Back in the early ‘70s, Earlie and a couple of his brothers were up at Arlington Park and asked me to come up, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ I’d always liked horses, been around them since I was a little boy. They found me a job, and after that, I never left the track.”

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