Saturday, August 30, 2014

Velazquez receives Venezia Award at Saratoga

The New York Racing Association, Inc.


Saturday, August 30, 2014


Contact: Jenny Kellner


John Velazquez receives Mike Venezia Memorial Award at Saratoga


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Hall of Famer 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, was presented with the Mike Venezia Memorial Award on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.


Velazquez was named the winner of the Mike Venezia Memorial Award following a fan vote conducted on 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.


Last year's recipient was Ramon Dominguez.


During a special ceremony in the winner's circle following the third 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, N.Y., 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 qualities."


Previous winners of the Venezia Award:

2013: Ramon Dominguez

2006: Edgar Prado

2004: Patricia Cooksey

2003: Richard Migliore

2002: Dean Kutz

2001: Mike Luzzi

2000: Jorge Chavez

1999: Gary Stevens

1998: Eddie Maple

1997: Robbie Davis

1996: Laffit Pincay, Jr.

1995: Pat Day

1994: Mike Smith

1993: Jerry Bailey

1992: Angel Cordero, Jr.

1991: Chris McCarron

1990: Bill Shoemaker

1989: Mike Venezia (posthumously)


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






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