June 29, 2022

2019 Woolf Award finalists announced 

George Woolf Statue at Santa Anita Park (c) Benoit Photos

Jockeys Joe Bravo, Kerwin Clark, John Davila Jr., Julien Leparoux and Scott Stevens are the finalists for the 2019 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, Santa Anita announced Thursday.

Since its inception in 1950, the Woolf Award has been especially prestigious because it is bestowed by a nationwide vote of fellow jockeys, to honor a colleague for both professional accomplishments and personal integrity.

“Jersey Joe” Bravo, a 13-time titlist at Monmouth Park, ranks as the track’s all-time leading rider. The 47-year-old veteran has won more than 5,300 races over the course of his career, including his regular partnership with 2015 champion turf horse Big Blue Kitten.

Clark, previously a finalist for the 2017 Woolf Award, has passed the 3,000-win threshold. Nicknamed “Boo Boo,” the Louisianan scored his most celebrated victory aboard Lovely Maria in the 2015 Kentucky Oaks (G1), when he was 56.

The Puerto Rican-born Davila Jr., 54, owns the Finger Lakes record book as the 14-time riding champion and all-time top jockey. Based at the upstate New York track since 1983, Davila reached the milestone of 4,000 wins this past October.

Frenchman Leparoux, 35, has achieved the rare distinction of winning Eclipse Awards as a champion apprentice (2006) as well as a journeyman (2009). His seven Breeders’ Cup trophies include wins aboard such champions as Tepin and Classic Empire, and he’s taken home 11 Keeneland riding titles.

Stevens, 57, is enshrined in the Canterbury Park and Idaho Racing Halls of Fame. The nine-time Turf Paradise riding champ has scored more than 4,800 wins despite a career beset by serious injuries. Younger brother Gary Stevens, the Hall of Famer who just hung up his boots, was honored with the Woolf Award in 1996.

Named in homage to George “The Iceman” Woolf, the great jockey who died in a 1946 spill at Santa Anita, the award boasts an honor roll of legends across the decades. The 2019 recipient will be announced in late February.