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Ortiz Wins Thompson Award

Gilbert Ortiz selected as recipient of Sam Thompson Memorial Award.

August 7, 2012

Gilbert Ortiz

Jockey Gilbert Ortiz has been selected as the winner of the second annual Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award. Ortiz will be honored at an awards presentation in the winner’s circle at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, September 2.

Popular horse racing sportscaster Chris Lincoln will emcee the award presentation. As for the winner, Ortiz receives a trophy and a belt buckle commemorating the win and a signed print of a Sam Thompson painting by artist Linda Manion made exclusively for the Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award. Ortiz’s name will be added to a permanent trophy to be displayed every year at the award ceremony.

The Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey award is a peer-elected award. Each summer, ballots are mailed to U.S. racetracks that are running Quarter Horses and active jockeys are invited to vote. This year, the four nominees were: G.R. Carter Jr., John Hamilton, Freddie Martinez and Gilbert Ortiz. Jockeys are asked to vote for the person whose personal character on and off the racetrack reflects positively on Quarter Horse racing.

“I was nominated last year and it feels good just to be nominated in a situation like this,” said Ortiz. “Winning this award means a lot to me because Sam Thompson was a good guy and did a lot for the Quarter Horse industry and in the jock’s room. It makes me feel good that people think I’ve accomplished things off the track and in the jock’s room, as far as being a leader. It’s an honor to win.”

Ortiz was born on May 1, 1963, in Pleasanton, Texas. He developed his riding skills through his father, Freddie, who was a fixture in the jocks’ room at tracks across Texas prior to pari-mutuel wagering. Ortiz began his career at the smaller non pari-mutual tracks in Texas when he was only 15, but it was when he unloaded his tack on the Louisiana Quarter Horse racing circuit that he found his greatest success.

Ortiz has long been a prominent jockey in Quarter Horse racing in the south, with major stakes wins in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma. His career highlights include Grade 1 wins in the Dash For Cash Futurity (twice), Dash For Cash Derby, Heritage Place Futurity, Longhorn Futurity, Refrigerator Handicap, Retama Park Futurity, Sam Houston Futurity, Bank of America Challenge Championship, Bank of America Texas Championship Challenge, Bayer Derby Challenge Championship and the Merial Distaff Challenge Championship, as well as Restricted Grade 1 races Lee Berwick Memorial Louisiana Bred Futurity (three times), LQHBA Futurity (twice), LQHBA Sale Futurity (four times).

Ortiz and his wife Priscilla have three children and reside in Floresville, Texas.

Speedhorse Magazine, in conjunction with The Jockeys' Guild, developed the Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award, modeling it after the popular George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in the Thoroughbred industry. The award is named in honor of jockey Sam Thompson, who died in a 2008 riding accident. One of the leaders in the jockeys’ room during his riding career, Thompson was a Jockeys’ Guild senator and the room representative at Los Alamitos and a council member of the Los Alamitos division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.