Veteran jockey Junior Alvarado has been named the winner of the 2023 Mike Venezia Memorial Award. Alvarado, based this summer at Saratoga Race Course and the regular rider of GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Cody's Wish, was chosen by a committee comprised of members of the Venezia family, representatives of the Jockeys' Guild and retired Eclipse Award-winning jockey Richard Migliore. Alvarado will be recognized in a winner's circle ceremony at Saratoga Saturday.
“The Venezia Memorial Award is about representing the sport we love so much in the best way possible,” said Alvarado. “I am thankful and proud to be chosen as this year's winner and I look forward to celebrating with my family and thanking the Venezia family here at Saratoga Race Course.”
The Mike Venezia Memorial Award is presented annually by the New York Racing Association to a jockey who displays the extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship that personified Venezia, who died as the result of injuries suffered in a spill in 1988. Venezia, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., won more than 2,300 races during his 25-year career.
“Junior is a true professional at what he does, both as a top jockey and as a role model,” said Terry Meyocks, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jockeys' Guild. “The winners of the Venezia Award are ambassadors for Thoroughbred racing; they're champions on and off the track. We welcome Junior to the ranks of those who have previously been honored with the Venezia Award.”
A native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela and the son of jockey Rafael Alvarado, Junior Alvarado, 37, rode his first winner in 2005 at La Rinconada Hippodrome in Caracas before moving to the U.S. in 2007 when he rode his first winner at Gulfstream Park. After earning the 2009 riding title at Arlington Park, Alvarado moved to New York in 2010 and he has been a mainstay on the circuit ever since, winning the 2014 GI Whitney S. on Moreno and racking up more than 1,400 wins and more than $106 million in earnings at the NYRA tracks. For his career, Alvarado has more than 2,000 wins and more than $126.9 million in earnings.