February 4, 2023

Velazquez honored with Mike Venezia Memorial Award

Last updated: 8/30/14 3:12 PM

John Velazquez joined the ranks of Mike Venezia honorees

(NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, a two-time Eclipse
Award-winning rider who serves as chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild board of
directors and a board member of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund (PDJF), was
presented with the Mike Venezia Memorial Award on Saturday at

Velazquez was named the winner of the Mike Venezia Memorial
Award following a fan vote conducted on
NYRA.com. The award was formerly voted upon by the jockey colony of the New
York Racing Association, which created the award in 1989 to recognize those
riders who display the sportsmanship and citizenship that defined Venezia.

During a special ceremony in the winner’s circle following Saratoga’s 3RD race, Velazquez was presented with the award by Helene Venezia, wife
of Mike Venezia, who passed away in 1988 after sustaining injuries in a racing
accident at Belmont Park. Venezia, a native of Brooklyn, won more than
2,300 races during his 25-year career.

Also in attendance for Saturday’s
presentation were Venezia’s daughter, Allison, her husband, James McGowan, and
their two children.

“I never got to meet Mike Venezia, but I heard so much
about him — he was a great jockey, a great person and most of all a great family
man,” said Velazquez, 42, who has won more races than any other jockey at
Saratoga and is the nation’s all-time money-earning rider. “I was telling his
wife those are big boots to fill, and I was honored to be recognized for those

Previous winners of the Venezia Award:

2013   Ramon Dominguez   1997   Robbie Davis
2006   Edgar Prado   1996   Laffit Pincay Jr.
2004   Patricia Cooksey   1995   Pat Day
2003   Richard Migliore   1994   Mike Smith
2002   Dean Kutz   1993   Jerry Bailey
2001   Mike Luzzi   1992   Angel Cordero Jr.
2000   Jorge Chavez   1991   Chris McCarron
1999   Gary Stevens   1990   Bill Shoemaker
1998   Eddie Maple   1989   Mike Venezia (posthumously)

Note: The award was not given in 2005 nor from 2007-12

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