Dean Kutz Receives Venezia Memorial Award

Dean Kutz, who overcame serious physical problems to forge a successful career as a jockey, received the 2002 Mike Venezia Memorial Award in the winners' circle following the running of Friday's Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct.

The Mike Venezia Memorial Award was instituted by the New York Racing Association to honor riders who "exemplify extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship." It is awarded by a vote among fans, turf writers and jockeys.

Kutz, 46, has faced more adversity than most. He was born with one kidney, experienced kidney disease in 1984 and received a life-saving kidney transplant from his sister. In March 1999, he had successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his throat, but lost his larynx in the procedure. He now communicates with a mechanical voicebox.

Yet, through it all, Kutz has been competitively riding Thoroughbreds, winning more than 2,800 races since his first in 1972.

The Mike Venezia Award is named for a popular New York jockey who was killed in a tragic spill at Belmont Park on October 13, 1988.

Mike Venezia Award Winners
1989 Mike Venezia (posthumously)
1990 Bill Shoemaker
1991 Chris McCarron
1992 Angel Cordero Jr.
1993 Jerry Bailey
1994 Mike Smith
1995 Pat Day
1996 Laffit Pincay Jr.
1997 Robbie Davis
1998 Eddie Maple
1999 Gary Stevens
2000 Jorge Chavez
2001 Mike Luzzi
2002 Dean Kutz