Apprentice Jock Caroline Quast Gaining a Reputation for Longshot Winners

Three jumps from the wire in Friday’s first race, jockey Caroline Quast looked like she had her third victory out of five mounts at Ellis Park. She wound up third, losing by less than three-quarters of a length. But what the heck? The Oklahoma-bred OU Make Me Happy was 45-1 and by far the longest shot in the field.

Source: Apprentice Quast Gaining A Reputation For Longshot Winners At Ellis

Jockey Stevens ‘Doing Well’ after Hip Surgery, Returns to the Saddle Mid-February

jockey riding a horse raceLooking fresh and fit as he recuperates from surgery last Dec. 21 for replacement of his left hip, Gary Stevens was on hand at Clockers’ Corner last Saturday morning, counting down the time until he can resume his Hall of Fame career. “I’m doing well,” Stevens said. “I’m rehabbing every day, back on my Equicizer which I’ve been riding for about 10 days now.

Source: Stevens ‘Doing Well’ After Hip Surgery, Back In The Saddle Mid-February

The Case for Perry Ouzts

Why this Legendary Midwest Rider should be in the Hall of Fame

by Ed Meyer

How many things have you done 48,413 times in your lifetime?  Toss out sleeping, eating, blinking and smiling and count again. Perry Wayne Ouzts’ name is being tossed around for the 2017 Hall of Fame.   To date he has 6,628 wins, 6,283 place finishes, and 5,973 show finishes. That has him 18,883 times in the money (top 3), and with over $41,816,149 in purses to his credit and a career win percentage of 14% and 39% (ITM), he is currently the 11th all-time leading rider for wins. It’s hard to imagine doing something so many times with such success. In Perry’s words from the “Ironman” documentary: “I’m gonna’ ride this train until they throw me off.”

On July 7, 1954, Perry Wayne Ouzts was born in Lepanto, Arkansas.  He was primarily raised in Rivervale with his cousins Earlie and Jackie Fires.   Earlie is in the Hall of Fame, and Jackie’s career was cut short as his body was crushed during a race, leaving him paralyzed.   Perry took his tack to Beulah Park in Grove City, Ohio where his storied career began with his first winner aboard Rablu in 1973.   There’s been many miles since that day in March, but the man has remained pretty much the same. He’s mainly ridden on the smaller circuits of Beulah, Latonia (now Turfway Park), River Downs (now Belterra Park), and occasional ventures to Mountaineer and Thistledown in Cleveland.

The smaller circuits don’t draw the attention as the marquee ovals and you’ll be hard pressed to set money winning records.  Perry rode pretty much in his own backyard as he raised his family with his wife Toni who also works in the industry for trainer Bill Connelly.  In his own words: ” I just love to win races.”   The jockey starts his day at 5:30 a.m. and you’ll know he’s there when he pulls up on his motorcycle dressed in his black leather chaps and helmet. They call him “the man in black” on the backside.   He is a competitor with fire in his blood who still works horses in the morning like the all-time greats of yester-year.   “You get such a rush when you win a horse race. It doesn’t matter if it’s the cheapest of the day or $200,000; you get that same rush.”  Not bad for a 17-year-old kid who left home for the first time seven days after graduating high school.   Back then, Perry set out for Chicago to learn how to start breaking horses and work in the mornings.  He was in awe of the sport and it gripped him immediately. He knew he would ride horses someday, but couldn’t believe they were going to pay him to ride race horses.

Perry Outz John Engelhardt photo Perry has won a total of 30 riding titles in his 42 years of competition. But don’t etch that figure in stone as he currently leads the jockey standings at Belterra Park, and the meet doesn’t end until October 12, 2016.   “The first two or three years I was winning races left and right but I didn’t know what I was doing,” explained Ouzts. “I didn’t really catch on until my third year.”

According to many trainers, he could have ridden anywhere in the country and competed with anyone. But he chose the smaller circuits close to where he called home in Hebron, Kentucky.  He still works eight or more horses in the morning and rides in the afternoon. Perry feels many of the younger riders don’t understand that’s the way you get your mounts. Work in the morning, ride in the afternoon.  After that he goes back and helps his wife muck stalls and feed. After 30-plus years of marriage, something must be working.   “It ain’t always in life you can find someone you can get along with that well. I’m going to keep her and do everything I can to try and help her.”

Perry Ouzts is a man of few words. He lets his riding do the talking and, with that being the case, he’s said a great deal.   His enthusiasm to get up every morning and give his all is not a common effort found in racing anymore. He’s healthy, he’s happy, and can be a real motivation for the younger riders in the room.  Perry chose to stay close to the people who were loyal to him and he’s loyal to them. That has been a recipe for success he won’t regret.

I watched ride him ride in on his Harley one morning and he greeted me.  I extended my hand and he reached over and gave me a big squeeze with the biggest smile. He asked if I would mind taking a picture of him in front of his motorcycle with his phone.   “Take another one, I’ll send that one to my wife.”  On the way out that day I ran into Perry in the same place. He had two wins that day, and I congratulated him on his victories.  “Ed, I thought I had the third one rounding the turn, but he got a little tired down the lane.”  That’s the stuff that makes him special. He’s appreciated by fans, owners, and trainers, and would rather try twice as hard next time than make an excuse today.  Baseball had Lou Gehrig, the NFL relished the sweetness of Walter Payton, and racing has Perry Ouzts. He isn’t planning on hanging it up anytime soon. In his own words: ” I’m gonna ride this train until they throw me off.”

 

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