Veteran rider Jose Ferrer has been named recipient of Santa Anita’s 2018 George Woolf Memorial Award after nationwide voting by his fellow jockeys. The award, presented annually since 1950, is named in honor of the late jockey who died following a spill at the Arcadia track in 1946 and recognizes riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing.
“For any Thoroughbred jockey, winning the George Woolf Award is probably the highlight of that jockey’s career,” said Jockeys’ Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks. “To be acknowledged by his peers as a rider who has maintained remarkable standards both on and off the track is quite an accomplishment. Jose is richly deserving of this honor and on behalf of our membership, I wholeheartedly congratulate him and his family.”
Born in Puerto Rico, the 53-year-old Ferrer began riding on the Midlantic circuit in the 1980s and he became the first jockey to win five races on a single card at the Meadowlands in 1983. Now based at Tampa Bay Downs, he has ridden more than 4,200 winners during his career.
“It means the world to me to have the guys I’ve ridden with throughout my career vote for me,” Ferrer said Sunday from Tampa Bay Downs. “It is an unbelievable feeling. When I learned I had won, I was up all night with my wife, just to thank God for this opportunity and for my peers to consider me worthy of this award. It’s a privilege and an honor to be with all those great riders and Hall of Famers who have won the Woolf Award. I give so much credit to God and to my wife Steffi. After I got married and started to get closer to God, things started to turn around for the best and more doors started opening…I see things differently now, and I believe you just have to keep trying in life and be positive.”
Ferrer will be presented with a replica of the life-sized statue of Woolf that has adorned Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens since 1949 during a ceremony at the track sometime this spring.