The Iceman Award

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 26, 2009 in General Discussion, News | No Comments >>

Each year a rider is voted by his or her fellow riders nationwide to accept the George Woolf award. This honor goes to a jockey whose career and personal character earn esteem for the game.

George was given the nickname “Iceman” for only one reason and it wasn’t for getting ice for drinks. He was as tough as a nickle steak, and would shoot a gap that a mouse couldn’t run through. His attitude was cool and calm. He would nap when other riders would pace the room.

Born in Canada in 1910, he won over 97 major stakes races. You probably remember Gary Stevens playing a rider in the movie Seabiscuit. That was Iceman at his best. They couldn’t have picked a better rider to play his part..

Ladies and Gents, the envelope please… This year’s award goes to John Velasquez. A native of Puerto Rico and a two time Eclipse winner, Johnny V. as he is known by the public, is special person. He has the looks of a movie star, and the brains of a banker. He is active in his sport and cares about his fellow riders.

If you haven’t been watching, or if you are new to the game, this fellow is class personified. He rides with the grace of a dancer, and finishes at the wire like a brawler. Combine the two and you have a rider who will be mentioned 100 years from now.

At 37, he is two years older than Woolf when he died at Santa Anita on January 4th, 1946. As he rounded the clubhouse turn, he fell and hit his head. It was the end of a legend’s life and career.

Thinking about things, I believe George would have liked Johnny V. They both┬áhave/had cool heads, and are/were fearless in the lane. What a match race this would have made. But, in 2009, congratulations J.V…..