Tuesday, December 26, 2006 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 26, 2006 . . . Perry Ouzts's smile shone as bright as a winner's trophy after Turfway Park's second race Tuesday. The race was the veteran rider's first since a riding accident sidelined him 11 months ago.
"I still got it!" Ouzts said after hustling Divine Dancer to a fast-closing second-place finish behind Treat, the winner by a length. The winner's circle presentation went largely unnoticed as cheering friends, family, and track employees surrounded the 52-year-old Ouzts.
In addition to Divine Dancer's runner-up finish, Ouzts finished fifth aboard Sensitive Habitat in the fourth race and seventh aboard Far Left in the seventh race. He has two mounts on Wednesday and four on Thursday.
Ouzts sustained a compound fracture of his right forearm and fractures to five vertebrae on January 29, 2006, when his mount in Turfway's second race suddenly fell nearing the quarter-pole. The horse was not injured in the fall.
Ouzts has been riding since 1973 and currently has 4,902 career wins. Fueling his comeback is a personal quest to reach 5,000 wins, a mark attained by just 20 jockeys since modern records have been kept, according to Equibase Company LLC, the Thoroughbred racing industry's official database.