Friday, September 24, 2010 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Sept. 24, 2010 – Jockey Perry Ouzts, 56, earned his 5,500th career win Sept. 23rd at Turfway Park, riding Holiday Tap to a neck victory in the eighth race.
A 37-year veteran rider, Ouzts was closing in on win number 5,000 when he was injured in an on-track accident at Turfway in January 2006. A compound fraction of his right forearm and fractures to five vertebrae sidelined him for 11 months, the longest and most grueling interruption of his long career. The chance to reach 5,000 drew him back to riding, and he returned in December 2006. He hit the elite milestone in August 2007 at River Downs, rode at Turfway that fall, and then sat out until April 2008 following further surgery.
This has been a banner year for Ouzts, who won both summer meets at River Downs and leads the Turfway standings for the current meet. He is currently ninth by wins among all North American riders with 197 from 923 mounts year-to-date, a 21 percent win percentage.
Ouzts grew up in Rivervale, Ark., riding horses with his cousin, Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires. He began his career at Beulah Park in 1973 and has been a consistent leader on the Ohio circuit ever since, holding a record 24 meet titles from River Downs and at least 11 at Beulah Park.