Saturday, December 30, 2006 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 30, 2006 . . . Jockey Perry Ouzts returned to the winner's circle in Turfway Park's eighth race Saturday, his first victory since an on-track injury put his career on hold 11 months ago. The win put him one step closer to 5,000 career wins, a goal that fueled his determination to return.
"It felt good to get it done," said the 52-year-old Ouzts, who returned to racing on December 26. "Anytime you come back after an injury, especially after 11 months, the longer you go [without a win], then you start hearing, 'He doesn't have the heart anymore,' 'he's too old'—stuff like that. I couldn't feel any better if I'd won the Kentucky Derby."
Long ago nicknamed Scoot 'n' Boot for his ability to get a horse out of the gate in a hurry, Ouzts hustled Sunday Blessing to an early lead in Saturday's eighth race and held it all the way to the wire. The three-year-old filly was never threatened, leading at one point by 8 lengths before cruising to a 5 3/4 length win over Crimson Dancer. Twisted Feather was third.
Ouzts was aboard Finders Chance in Turfway's second race on January 29, 2006, when the horse suddenly fell, pitching the jockey to the track. The horse was not injured, but Ouzts sustained a compound fracture of the right forearm and five fractured vertebrae. The resulting 11-month hiatus is the longest of his 33-year career.