The New York Racing Association has announced Kendrick Carmouche as the 2017 recipient of the Mike Venezia Memorial Award, the prestigious honor awarded to jockeys who exemplify extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship.
The Venezia Award will be presented to Carmouche on Memorial Day, May 29, in a ceremony to follow the third race at Belmont Park. The award, established in 1989, is named in honor of jockey Mike Venezia, who died as a result of injuries he suffered in a spill in 1988 at Belmont Park. Venezia, a Brooklyn native, won more than 2,300 races during his 25-year career.
Carmouche, 33, was selected as the 2017 winner through an online fan vote hosted on NYRA.com that closed on May 16. For 2017, the field of deserving candidates included Javier Castellano, Cornelio Velasquez, Joe Bravo, and Rajiv Maragh.
"As respected as Mike Venezia was, I was just pleased to even be nominated for the award," said Carmouche "To be able to actually win the Venezia Award is a great honor and I'd like to thank all those who voted for me. My dad always told me, 'respect everybody and everybody is going to respect you.' I'm 33 years old and I can say that advice works in life. I just try to put a smile on people's faces and make them happy. I think that's what life is about."
Carmouche has amassed more than 2,900 victories in his career and established himself as one of the top riders on the New York Racing Association circuit. In 2016, he piloted 124 winners at NYRA tracks, totaling over $8.2 million in purse earnings. Prior to riding full time in New York in 2015, Carmouche captured seven riding titles at Parx.
A native of Vinton, Louisiana, Carmouche comes from a racing family as his father, Sylvester Jr. and brother Sylvester III, also rode professionally.
Carmouche is a multiple-graded stakes winning jockey whose career highlights include stakes wins aboard Haveyougoneaway in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap, Dancing House in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Stakes at Laurel Park, Scuba in the Grade 2 Marathon Stakes and most recently in the Grade 3 Toboggan Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack aboard Green Gratto.
The first Venezia Award was awarded posthumously to Venezia in 1989. Previous winners of the award include Mario Pino (2016), Jon Court (2015), Hall of Famer John Velazquez (2014) and Hall of Famer Ramon Dominguez (2013).