Retired after 33 years of riding:
Guidry closed out his career on November 10, 2007, at Churchill Downs where he won 1 of 5 final starts. He retired with a total of 5,043 wins from 31,321 races, which is 21st on the all-time list of North American riders. His final win came in the 8th race aboard Eaton's Gift. Guidry said, "It has been an honor and a privilege to ride for 33 years – it is something that can’t be taken for granted. I want to thank all the fans because without them, there would be no racing. I’d like to thank the people that gave me all the opportunities and this group of guys that I rode against."
He reached a major milestone during the first race on Kentucky Oaks day at Churchill Downs, guiding D. Wayne Lukas trainee and 6-year-old gelding Chippewa Trail to a 1/2 length victory, a $55,000 1 mile optional claimer for older horses. He said, "It's great to reach this milestone. Going into the race I honestly thought there were a couple horses that had a better shot. When we got to the eighth pole I thought we were done. Then he started running by them and I thought, 'Oh, here we go, this is it!' It's a great feeling, a good period in a great career."
George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award Winner:
Mark Guidry, a Louisiana native who began riding in 1974 and who has won more that 4,700 races, was selected the winner of the 2006 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.
Guidry, 46, is the 57th recipient of the award that has been presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950 and which honors the memory of one of the greatest Thoroughbred jockeys of all time. The Woolf Award will be presented to Guidry on Sunday, March 12.
A Career Highlight:
The Woolf Award honors riders whose careers and personal character reflect positively on themselves and on the sport of racing. Since 1985, jockeys have voted to determine the winner and it is considered to be one of racing’s most prestigious awards.
"This is the icing on the cake. It ranks way over any other accomplishments that I’ve had in my career," said Guidry. "This is something you only dream about. It’s unbelievable, I’m very, very appreciative. I still can’t believe it."
A Proud Cajun:
Guidry, who was born in Lafayette, LA, was quick to acknowledge his early upbringing as a major force in his career. Like many of his fellow Cajuns, Guidry began riding at an early stage. At age 9, he rode his first races at bush tracks and he won his first recognized race at the age of 16, aboard Tempermental Tom at Delta Downs.
"Through the years a lot of riders from Louisiana have won the award, guys like Perret, Delahoussaye, Desormeaux, Albarado, and Sibille. I think a lot of it has to do with the way we were raised. We were taught to respect others, to treat others like you want to be treated. That kind of stuff is pounded into you, but the individual has to open up his heart and make the right choices. I've made some bad ones, but I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes and do the right thing."
Guidry resides in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife Tina and has three children, Fallon, Marcus and Mecus. He is currently riding full-time at Gulfstream Park in Florida and will shift his base of operation back to Kentucky later this spring.
An Illustrious Career:
Guidry rode in Louisiana until 1986 when he moved his tack to Fairmount Park in Illinois and then on to Chicago-area tracks. He quickly became a dominant force in Chicago, where he was a seven-time leading rider at Hawthorne, a nine-time leader at Sportsman's Park and a two-time leader at Arlington International.
Guidry's mounts earned a career best $7,668,679 in 2005 and his top mounts included Buzzard's Bay, who won the Gr. I Santa Anita Derby and Perfect Drift, with whom he won the Washington Park Handicap (G2). Guidry has also ridden such top horses throughout his career as Black Tie Affair, Buck's Boy, Polar Expedition, Megans Bluff, Nite Dreamer, Chrysalis House, Celtic Melody, Balto Star, San Dare, Offlee Wild, Deputy Warlock, Political Attack, Riskaverse, Roses in May and Sand Springs.