Jockey Cesar De Alba has been named the winner of the seventh annual Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award. Alba will be honored at an awards presentation in the winner's circle at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, September 3rd during the All American Weekend.
Alba will receive a trophy and a belt buckle commemorating the award, as well as a signed and numbered Limited Edition bronze statue of Sam Thompson and Champion Corona Kool by artist Linda Manion made exclusively for the Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award. Alba’s name will be added to a permanent plaque. This plaque is housed in the Racing Hallway, along with the most distinguished horses and awards, at the American Quarter Horse Association in Amarillo, Texas.
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. Active jockeys are invited to vote for the person whose personal character on and off the racetrack reflects positively on Quarter Horse racing. This year, the five nominees were: Cesar De Alba, Jorge Martin Bourdieu, Alfonso Lujan, Esgar Ramirez and Ricky Ramirez.
Previous winners of the Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award include: Roy Brooks, the first winner in 2011; Gilbert Ortiz in 2012; G. R. Carter, Jr. in 2013; Cody Jensen in 2014; Eddie Garcia in 2015; and Ramon Sanchez in 2016.
This year's award winner, Cesar De Alba, was born Oct. 2, 1981, in Guadalajara, Mexico. His family moved to the United States in 1989. They settled in Southern California, where his father was a jockey - as is his uncle, 2015 Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award winner Eddie Garcia. Cesar began as a Thoroughbred jockey, but transitioned to Quarter Horses. Riding full-time at Los Alamitos, Cesar has ridden many top horses. Perhaps the most recognizable is 4-time AQHA Champion Moonist, that he rode to 21 victories and 11 stakes wins. “The best advice I can give to a young jockey is that nothing is more important than remaining humble,” shared Cesar, who has the desire to continue learning to become an even more accomplished rider. “I want to be as successful as I can be and hope that I can do this for as long as I know how.” De Alba and his wife, Becky, a state track veterinarian, have two sons and call the city of Cypress, California, home.
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 suffered a fatal riding accident in 2008. One of the leaders in the jockeys’ room during his riding career, Thompson was a Jockeys’ Guild senator, the room representative at Los Alamitos, and a council member of the Los Alamitos division of the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.