Jockeys' Guild Awards

Ricky Ramirez, Tad Leggett honored at Jockeys' Guild Meeting.

John Beech, Casey Lambert, Cesar Gomez, Ricky Ramirez , GR Carter, Tad Leggett, Janet VanBebber, James Flores, and Mr. & Mrs. Larry Sharp. PHOTO: Courtesy Janet VanBebber

Jockeys Ricky Ramirez and Tad Leggett were both honored at the recent Jockeys’ Guild National Convention, held December 11-12 in Las Vegas.

Ramirez was honored with the Jacky Martin award, which was presented by G.R. Carter Jr.
Named the 2015 AQHA Champion Jockey, Ricky Ramirez was born May 17, 1985, in Odessa, Texas. His father owned and raced Quarter Horses and Ricky began riding in match races there at the age of 13.

“We did make several trips to see the All American in Ruidoso when I was a child and as a teenager,” said Ramirez. “I got a chance to see all of these riders I had always heard about, like G.R. Carter, Jacky Martin, and Jerry Nicodemus. Seeing them ride, and see them win would just inspire me to follow my dream of becoming a jockey even more.”

He obtained his jockey license at 18 years of age and recorded his first win in a 2003 maiden race at Gillespie County Fair aboard his father's horse, Hooked On Fuel. His racing career hit full stride in 2008 when he crossed the finish line first aboard Hearts Runaway in the New Mexican Spring Futurity (RG1) at Sunland Park. But it was his status as first-call rider for Blane and Trey Wood that vaulted him to the elite level of Quarter Horse riding. He has won more than 80 stakes including 21 Grade 1s and currently ranks 12th on the all-time money earned list. He reached the 1,000 win milestone on May 19, 2017.

“To be a jockey is all I ever wanted to do. I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else besides ride racehorses for a living.”

Ricky and his wife Alejandra reside in Odessa, Texas with their young son and daughter. He was a finalist this year for the Sam Thompson Memorial Award.

Tad Leggett was one of two jockeys to receive the Ron Turcotte Courage Award, with the other jockey being Jack Fires.

Leggett rode for 24 years starting in Broken Bow, Nebraska, where he rode his first winner. Thereafter he rode at tracks all over the Midwest and California. In 2015 he was inducted into the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame where he was leading Quarter Horse jockey each season from 2003 to 2006.

His career ended in 2010 at Fair Meadows in Oklahoma when a 2-year-old he was riding collapsed beneath him after the wire, crushing vertebrae in his neck and leaving him a quadri-plegic and facing a long road to recovery. But his story is not only one of survival but of hope and healing anchored by family, his wife Tina, daughter Tiffany, sons Trevor and Travis and his extended race-track family.

Leggett continues to work hard in physical therapy and can now walk a short distance with the assistance of a walker.

“Sometimes I slow down and I’ve time to search myself,” he said. “I believe a lot of things in my life have changed for the better, I have some bad days but I know I can dwell on the past all I want, and it won’t change anything. I look at it like my life is a book. One chapter is done, and now it’s time to go on to the next.”

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