07/22/2004 12:00AM

Cooksey wins Venezia Award


Patricia Cooksey, the second-leading female rider of all time, was voted the winner of the Mike Venezia Memorial Award, the New York Racing Association announced Thursday.

The Venezia Award, named in honor of the jockey who was killed in a spill at Belmont Park in 1988, honors riders "who exemplify extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship." The award is voted on by fans, turf writers, and jockeys.

Cooksey, who recently retired from race-riding after beating breast cancer and overcoming a severe leg injury, will be presented the 13-inch bronze statue titled, "The Jockey, A Champion," at a yet-to-be-determined date during the Belmont fall meet.

Cooksey, 46, won 2,127 races - second only to Julie Krone - during her 25-year career. She was the second woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby and first to win the Preakness.

Past winners of the Venezia award include Venezia, Bill Shoemaker, Chris McCarron, Angel Cordero, Laffit Pincay, Jerry Bailey, Pat Day, Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, Robbie Davis, Eddie Maple, Jorge Chavez, Mike Luzzi, Dean Kutz, and Richard Migliore.