George Woolf Statue

George Woolf Statue

On the grounds of Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, you’ll find the statue of George Woolf, one of the most celebrated jockeys in the history of horse racing.

George Woolf is a legend of Santa Anita Park. In 1935, riding a horse named Azucar, he won the first-ever $100,000 race at the Santa Anita Handicap. But he is probably best remembered as the jockey who rode legendary racehorse Seabiscuit during the 1938 season, the horse’s most triumphant year.

A statue of Woolf stands in the outer courtyard at Santa Anita to commemorate the jockey’s contributions to horse racing and his many accomplishments at his home track. The life-size bronze statue has Woolf standing in his riding silks, jockey cap sitting jauntily on his head, holding a riding saddle on his left arm.

George Woolf statue at Santa Anita Park. Photo from the author’s collection.

Woolf was known as “The Iceman of the Saddle,” a nickname he earned from his peers and his fans for his level-headed patience on the track and the calm nonchalance he displayed before races.

In 1946, Woolf fell from his horse during a race at Santa Anita and suffered a concussion. He died the next day in the hospital at just 35 years old. Woolf had type 1 diabetes, and most people feel this condition was a contributing factor in his fall. He’s buried in the Great Mausoleum at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, not too far from Babyland.

The George Woolf Statue was scupted by Hughlette “Tex” Wheeler in 1948, the fellow who also sculpted the Will Rogers statue at Will Rogers State Beach. An inscription on the sculpture’s black marble base indicates it was “Sponsored by the California Turf Writers” and “Erected by the Public” in 1949.

The statue was funded entirely through public donations from horse racing fans, professionals, and officials throughout the world — and each person could only contribute one dollar.

In honor of Woolf’s memory, each year since 1950, Santa Anita has awarded a jockey who upholds high professional and personal standards with the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. As part of the award, the winning jockey is given a trophy — a one-foot high replica of the George Woolf Statue standing at Santa Anita.

George Woolf Statue

Tom Fassbender is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. When not exploring Los Angeles, he’s been known to enjoy a cup of coffee or two. You can find him at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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