News and STORIES

Finalists for the 2021 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award Announced

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Wednesday December 23, 2020

Perhaps one of the most prestigious awards in American racing, the Woolf Award has announced a group of five finalists for the 2021 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. Santa Anita Park made the announcement, stating that the winner will be chosen in February 2021. The award can only be won once by an individual in his lifetime and is determined by a vote of jockeys nationwide.

The five that have made the final list are all veteran riders that have earned the respect of their peers, various horsemen, and the horse racing industry in general. These jockeys are;

  • Alex Birzer
  • Kendrick Carmouche
  • Aaron Gryder
  • Deshawn Parker
  • Jorge Martin Bourdieu

This award aims to identify and reward those riders that have performed exceptionally both on and off the racetrack. Presented annually by Santa Anita, the 70-year-old Woolf Award trophy is a replica of the life-sized statue of Hall of Fame jockey, George Woolf. His statue stands in front of Santa Anita's Paddock Gardens area.

Brief Profile on the Finalists

Alex Birzer

Alex is a native of Kansas City and has been a jockey for nearly three decades. He is one of America's hardest-working jockeys whose stats has shown just how committed he is to his job. From the start of his career through to November 29, he has 3,396 career wins. Some of which are;

  • Five-time leading rider at Prairie Meadows in Des Moines, Iowa
  • Four-time leader at The Woodlands

Alex was born into the horse racing world as his father was a trainer, and sadly so, has a younger brother that was rendered permanently disabled after a racing accident in 2004.

Kendrick Carmouche

The 36-year-old started riding at recognized tracks at the age of 16 and has since then made strides in the horse racing community. Kendrick was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana to popular jockey, Sylvester. His career took off in 2008 after he led the rider standings at Parx Racing and held on to the position for three more years. He has over 3,300 career wins, but the December 5 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct is his biggest win. He won that race with True Timber, and that was his first-ever Grade 1 victory.

Aaron Gryder

Aaron has continually said that he was interested in being a jockey from a very young age. He visited Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar with his grandparents often and fell in love with horse racing. He is the winner of the world's richest race, which had a top prize of $6 million. It was the G1 Dubai World Cup in 2009, which was sponsored by Emirates Airline. Gryder has over 3,900 career wins and announced his retirement in November. However, he has agreed to ride in Saudi Arabia and Dubai one last time because his son is stationed there with the United States Marine Corps.

Deshawn Parker

Parker is not your typical jockey in terms of height but has not allowed that deter him. He has 5,822 career wins through the course of his career. A jockey with these numbers should not be far from Hall of Fame consideration. He is ahead of all North American jockeys times two and is also the leading rider in America with 377 in 2010.

Jorge Martin Bourdieu

Martin has ridden primarily in the Southwest, frequenting Turf paradise, Sunland Park, Zia Park, and Arapahoe Park. He has overcome several injuries in his long career and rides Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. Jorge has more accolades in Thoroughbred racing as he has won 90 of them at Los Alamitos. However, he has also registered some victories in Quarter Horse stakes, like the AQHA Cox Ranch Distance Challenge in 2018 and the $100,000 Wild West Futurity in 2019. It will interest you to know that he is a native of Cordoba, Argentina.