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For week ended August 15, 1999 Posted 29 Aug 1999

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Mormon enters horse racing Hall of Fame (Riding High: Baze enters horse racing's Hall of Fame today)

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Mormon enters horse racing Hall of Fame (Riding High: Baze enters horse racing's Hall of Fame today)
San Francisco CA Chronicle 9Aug99 L3
By Larry Stumes: Chronicle Staff Writer

In spite of his relative obscurity, Russell Baze wins races. He has won a lot of races -- 6,666 to be exact -- and his winning gained him a seat in the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, NY yesterday, one of 78 jockeys so recognized in the history of horse racing. But Baze doesn't plan to stop winning any time soon. Horse racing allows active jockeys to be inducted after 15 years of competing.

Just seven jockeys have won more races than Baze, but since he is still active, he has a shot at reaching the number one spot, passing the famous jockey Bill Shoemaker (retired). Shoemaker won 8,833 races in his career, but active jockey Laffit Pincay is expected to pass the record by early next year.

But Baze wins more races each year than anyone else. He is the only jockey to win at least 400 races in a year more than three times, and Baze is currently at seven straight years of more than 400 races won. At that rate, he should pass 8,000 wins by 2002.

"I think Russell largely made it on his own," says trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who has supplied Baze with many winning mounts during the past 15 years. "He didn't get a big media push. A lot of people around the country appreciate his accomplishments. He's won 400 races seven years in a row, but I don't think he's ever really gotten his due in the media here."

His winning tends to feed on itself since his record gets Baze his pick of horses. But this notice is just among insiders. With the decline of the popularity of horse racing, Baze doesn't get the notice that previous jockeys have received.

Baze is known in the sport for being very nice, not one to brag or attract notoriety. "He's quiet and unassuming, and he never brags," said Hollendorfer. "He's just a consummate professional. You're so close to him, that he's just one of the guys who rides your horse. You never really think about him being in the Hall of Fame."

Baze comes from a racing family. His father was a jockey and trainer, he has two brothers that are jockeys and a brother and a sister who work in the industry. And his wife is the sister of a trainer.

He first rode in 1974, winning for the first time that year. This article details many of the highlights of Baze's carreer and gives extensive statistics for his record as a jockey, including cumulative winnings of more than $94 million.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information