The list of past recipients of the Mike Venezia Award: Mike Venezia (1989); Bill Shoemaker (1990); Chris McCarron (1991); Angel Cordero Jr. (1992); Jerry Bailey (1993); Mike Smith (1994); Pat Day (1995); Laffit Pincay Jr. (1996); Robbie Davis (1997); Eddie Maple (1998); Gary Stevens (1999); Jorge Chavez (2000); Mike Luzzi (2001); Dean Kutz (2002); and Richard Migliore (2003).
Patricia Cooksey has been named the recipient of the 2004 Mike Venezia Memorial Award in a vote of fans, turf writers and jockeys.Cooksey will be presented with a 13-inch bronze statue titled, "The Jockey, A Champion," at a ceremony during the Belmont Park Fall Meeting. The Mike Venezia Memorial Award was instituted by the New York Racing Association to honor riders who "exemplify extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship." Venezia was killed in a spill at Belmont Park on Oct. 13, 1988. Cooksey was selected from a group of four finalists that included Aaron Gryder, Edgar Prado and John Velazquez. The three voting groups -- fans, turf writers and jockeys -- had equal voice in the selection process. Cooksey, 46, retired earlier this summer with 2,137 career victories. After winning her first race with Turf Advisor at Waterford Park in 1979, she compiled enough victories to briefly become the leading female jockey in racing history on Feb. 28, 1988. Cooksey, who scored win No. 2,000 on Jan. 14, 1998, is second only to Julie Krone on the all-time list. She was also only the second female jockey in the Kentucky Derby when she rode So Vague in 1984. Last year, Cooksey, a mother of one daughter, successfully fought breast cancer.