Joe Bravo will receive the 2018 Mike Venezia Memorial Award, the New York Racing Association announced Wednesday. The award salutes jockeys who exemplify extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship.
The award presentation will take place on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, in a ceremony between the third and fourth races at Belmont Park. Established in 1989, the award was created in honor of jockey Mike Venezia, who died as a result of injuries he suffered in a spill in 1988 at Belmont Park after winning more than 2,300 races during a 25-year career.
“Honestly, it’s such an honor to be able to receive this award,” Bravo said. “I’m shocked it wasn’t a four person dead-heat, because each of the guys I was nominated with are all great and deserving to win as well. When you look at the some of the past winners of this award, including Hall of Famers like Angel Cordero, Jr, Ramon Dominguez and Edgar Prado; it’s truly an honor.”
Known as “Jersey Joe,” Bravo has been a prominent force in the New Jersey jockey ranks for more than the two decades. The 46-year-old native of Long Branch, New Jersey comes from a racing family, with both his dad and grandad being former jockeys, and Bravo has compiled more than 5,263 wins and his mounts have earned more than $170 million as of May 16.
His top mounts in 2017 included Grade 1 winners Bigger Picture and Zipessa.
Bravo was selected for the Venezia Award through an online fan vote and edged a strong field that included Javier Castellano, Manny Franco, Irad Ortiz Jr. and Jose Ortiz.
The first Venezia Award was awarded posthumously to Venezia in 1989.