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Perry Wayne Ouzts, a professional jockey from Lepanto (Poinsett County), is one of twenty-one professional riders to have won 5,000 races. Around horseracing tracks, he is nicknamed the “Workingman’s Hero” or, for his unique riding style, “Scoot N’ Boot.” He has also been noted for overcoming numerous potentially career-ending injuries.
Perry Ouzts was born in Lepanto on July 7, 1954, but was raised primarily in Rivervale (Poinsett County). During his years in Rivervale, Ouzts began riding horses with his cousins Earlie and Jackie Fires. Earlie Fires was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame of Jockeys, while Jackie’s career ended when his body was crushed during a horse race in 1977, paralyzing him. Ouzts began riding professionally in the spring of 1973 at Beulah Park.
Ouzts’s first career victory came in March 1973 while riding Rablu at Beulah Park in Grove City, Ohio. Ouzts holds a record of eighteen meet titles at River Downs in Cincinnati, Ohio, and eleven meet titles at Beulah Park. At the time of his 5,000th win, Ouzts had raced in 39,429 races with total earnings of over $29 million. Out of the 39,429 races, he finished third 4,801 times and second 4,911 times.
Ouzts’s biggest accomplishment came on August 21, 2007. At River Downs, on a horse named Kandinsky, he won at a 3 ¾-lengths victory, giving him his 5,000th career win. That same day, he won two more races. In September 2007, Ouzts won his most profitable race in the $200,000 Miller Lite Cradle Stakes for two-year-olds, riding Old Man Buck.
Ouzts has had his share of near career-ending accidents. In 1992, during an event at River Downs, the race was stopped because Ouzts’s horse stumbled near the starting gate, throwing him off. Ouzts was kicked in the face, resulting in a broken jaw, nose, and shoulder. The most damaging injury Ouzts suffered happened in January 2006 at Turfway Park. Finders Chance, Ouzts’s horse that day, came to a sudden halt at the track’s quarter-pole, and Ouzts was thrown to Turfway Park’s Polytrack, part of the track’s synthetic racing surface. Another horse clipped his right arm, snapping the bone. This accident left Ouzts with four cracked and one crushed vertebrae. However, three surgeries and eleven months later, he made one of the most remarkable comebacks of any professional jockey. In his debut race after the incident, Ouzts finished second while riding Divine Dancer at the same Turfway Park. In 2009 and 2010, he won the summertime meets at River Downs.
Ouzts resides in Hebron, Kentucky, a short driving distance from the year-round racing in Ohio and Kentucky. He lives with his wife, Toni, and their two sons.
For additional information:Kinney, Terry. “Jockey Perry Ouzts nearing 5,000th Milestone.” USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/horses/2007-07-01-1347566094_x.htm (accessed June 11, 2014).
“Turfway’s Jockeys and Trainers.” Turfway Park. http://www.turfway.com/bios.asp?bt=j (accessed June 11, 2014).
Bryce KittingerHarding University
Last Updated 6/11/2014
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