Happy 66th Birthday, Perry Ouzts!

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 6, 2020 in Blogroll, General Discussion, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Happy 66th Birthday, Perry Ouzts!

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51,317 – 7,084 – 39% 


I guess you’re wondering how many times you’ve done anything in your life 51,317 times? Blink? Heartbeats? Smile? – Or, watched Perry Ouzts climb onto the back of a 1,200 lb Thoroughbred. – How about 7,084? The number of times he sauntered back slowly on his winning horse, enjoying every time like it was his first time to the winner’s circle. 39 is the percent from all of his mounts he has finished in the money. Not a bad career at the office, huh? – Well, on July 7th, the 7th all-time leader in Thoroughbred history has a birthday. He turns 66-years-young and has no plans to sit on the porch in a rocking chair. Who knows? He may just be getting started.

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 have 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.





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I’ve had the pleasure of watching Perry ride for years. – It first started by tagging along with my dad and seeing this man ply his trade tirelessly. Then I was the marketing director at River Downs, player development manager at Turfway Park, and casual visitor to Beulah Park where I would see him venture to the winner’s circle. Every mount, he’s the first rider out of the jock’s room, and when he wins, he slowly jogs back to the winner’s circle savoring the moment like a fine wine. “Every winner means the world to me. There’s nothing that I enjoy more than winning a race”, according to Ouzts.

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.

Last summer he had a pretty bad injury. It had him in the hospital for multiple surgeries and he was on the sideline for last summer and winter. – Perry started walking horses in the morning to help his wife and beating the boredom of rehab. Staying fit and eventually started working horses in the morning at Turfway Park before the COVID-19 quarantine. He was ready and wanted to come back to Belterra Park. He rode a few mounts at Churchill Downs for longtime friend Barb Riley and hung his tack in Ohio.

He’s always close; and if you’re not for sure who’s on the lead. Nine outta’ ten it’s Perry. – On June 25, 65-year-old Ouzts rode five winners from eight races. For a feat that is usually mentioned with the Ortiz brothers, and some of the top dogs. Perry Ouzts came to work and rolled them off in fine fashion. He then jumped on his Harley and headed back home to be with his wife Toni. Just another day at the office.

I’m still in awe of his ability and tenacity. – He loves winning races as much as he did as a kid back in Arkansas. Best of luck my friend. Enjoy your birthday. I sure hope you have a piece of cake and put up your feet. After all, you’ll be riding races the next day.