Patricia Cooksey, Aaron Gryder, Edgar Prado and John Velazquez have been named as the finalists for the 2004 Mike Venezia Memorial Award. The Venezia Award was instituted by the New York Racing Association to honor riders who "exemplify extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship." Venezia was killed in a tragic spill at Belmont Park on Oct. 13, 1988.
The first award was given to Venezia posthumously in a ceremony at Belmont Park in 1989, at which Venezia's wife, Helene, and his children, Mike and Allison, accepted the award on his behalf.
The 2004 recipient will be decided by voting by fans, turf writers and jockeys. Each group has an equal voice. Points will be awarded as follows: five points for the top vote getter in each group; three points for second; and one point for third.
The recipient of the 2004 Mike Venezia Award will be honored at Belmont Park this fall. He will receive a 13-inch bronze statue titled, "The Jockey, A Champion."