Jockey Jimmy Dean Brooks has been named the winner of the tenth annual Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award. Brooks will be honored at an awards presentation in the winner’s circle at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, September 5th during the All American Weekend.
Brooks will receive 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. Brooks’ 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 four nominees were: Berkley Packer, Jesus Rios Ayala, Jimmy Dean Brooks and Stormy Smith.
Previous winners of the Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award include: Jimmy Dean Brooks’ father 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; Ramon Sanchez in 2016; Cesar De Alba in 2017; Ricky Ramirez in 2018; and Esgar Ramirez in 2019. There was no award in 2020 because so many of the racetracks around the country were closed due to COVID-19.
This year’s award winner, Jimmy Dean Brooks was born July 18, 1965, in Blanchard, Oklahoma, where he has lived all his life. Jimmy was introduced to horse racing by his father, the legendary jockey Roy Brooks, who was the first winner of the Sam Thompson Memorial Award in 2011.
“My dad taught me everything I know. After dad finished third in the All American, I thought I could do that,” said Jimmy, who grew up watching his father ride. Jimmy said his first big win came in the 1984 No Burner Allowance at Blue Ribbon Downs Sallisaw, Oklahoma, where he set a track record.
He said the most memorable horse he ever rode was 2-time World Champion/8-time Champion/#3 all-time leading money earner Refrigerator, that Jimmy rode to victory in his first four outs. “He was awesome,” Jimmy said. “As fast a horse I have ever been on. I’m still looking for another one like him.”
Among other races Jimmy counts among his best are winning the All American Derby with Feature Hero, Ruidoso Futurity with Chick On The Take, Ruidoso Derby with Rock You, and the Remington Park Futurity twice with Flying Dino and Coronado Cartel.
Jimmy has suffered his share of spills, including chipped knees and a broken collar bone. “I broke my pelvis around 2007 and was off for around six months,” he said. “When I got back, I started riding for Eddie Willis, and I can’t thank him enough for calling me and asking me to work for him.”
Jimmy married his high school sweetheart, Tina, in 2012. He has a son, and she has a daughter, both of whom are on their own, and Jimmy and Tina are now grandparents. “My wife supports me 100%. She’s my backbone.”
As far as the future, “I will keep racing as long as I can and as long as I am having fun.”
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.
For more information on the Sam Thompson Memorial Jockey Award, contact Speedhorse at (405) 310-4651.