11/28/2002 1:00AM

Kutz gets Venezia Award

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Jockey Dean Kutz, who overcame numerous infirmities to ride more than 2,800 winners in his career, was chosen as the 2002 winner of the Mike Venezia Memorial Award, it was announced Thursday.

The Venezia Award was instituted by the New York Racing Association to honor riders who "exemplify extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship." It is voted on by fans, turf writers, and jockeys.

Kutz, 46, was born with one kidney and received a life-saving kidney transplant from his sister in 1984. In 2000, Kutz was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent surgery in which his larynx was removed. He now communicates with a mechanical voicebox.

Kutz was to be presented with the award at Aqueduct on Friday, following the running of the Top Flight Handicap.

The Venezia Award is named for the popular New York rider who was killed in a spill at Belmont Park on Oct. 13, 1988. Past winners include Bill Shoemaker, Chris McCarron, Angel Cordero, Jerry Bailey, Pat Day, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens, and Jorge Chavez.