Jockey DeShawn Parker, who in 2010 became the first African American rider since 1895 to lead all American jockeys in races won, has been selected by a vote of jockeys nationwide as the winner of the 2021 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.
Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950, the Woolf Award can only be won once. It recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character garner esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
A Cincinnati, Ohio native, Parker, 50, outpolled four other Woolf finalists, Alex Birzer, Jorge Martin Bourdieu, Kendrick Carmouche and Aaron Gryder. The 2021 Woolf Award win comes on the heels of the passing of Parker's mentor and father, Daryl Parker. A longtime highly respected Ohio racing steward, Parker passed away from cancer Mar. 4.
“My idol, my best friend and a great father,” Parker tweeted Mar. 5. “He meant so much to my life and my career. I can only hope to be as great as he was. I'm going to miss my Dad so much, but I know he's in a better place with no pain and living his life to the fullest up there, hanging with friends and family and talking up a storm!”
Despite being 5'10”, Parker was America's leading rider in 2010 with 377 wins. He came back to lead all jockeys again in 2011 with 400 trips to the Winner's Circle. Parker was a perennial leading rider at Mountaineer, as well as Indiana Grand and Sam Houston.
Due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 Woolf Award ceremony will be conducted at a date to-be-determined.