Venezia was born on May 5, 1945 in Brooklyn, New York.
Venezia had been a jockey for twenty-five years and rode his first winner in 1964. He had ridden 2,313 winners when he was thrown from his horse, Mr. Walter K. and trampled to death by a trailing horse during a race at Belmont Park. The New York Times reported he had recently said that the highlight of his career came on December 7, 1964 when he won six races in one day at Aqueduct Racetrack. 
Venezia was actually named Frederick Venezia (by tradition, after his paternal grandfather) when he was born. But his uncle, Michael Venezia, a Sergeant in the US Army was killed in action while fighting in Germany on April 18, 1945, so when the telegram announcing the tragic event arrived just after the birth, the name was changed to Michael in honor of the fallen uncle.
Venezia was killed in a horse racing accident on October 13, 1988. He was survived by his wife, Helene, son, Michael Edward, and daughter, Alison.
Annually since 1989, the New York Racing Association provides the Mike Venezia Memorial Award to a rider who exemplifies extraordinary sportsmanship and citizenship. Active in jockey affairs, Venezia served as president of the Jockeys' Guild from 1975 to 1981.
|Jockeys' Guild President
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