There has never been a Bay Area athlete who has dominated his sport as completely and consistently as jockey Russell Baze. He retired as the world’s winningest rider with 12,842 victories from 53,578 mounts, recording 3,311more victories than Laffit Pincay Jr., the second winningest jockey in American Thoroughbred racing history. On the local level, he won 54 riding championships at Golden Gate Fields and 40 more at Bay Meadows while leading the nation in total wins 13 times. He is the only rider with 50,000 mounts. When the National Turf Writers Association created the Isaac Murphy Award to honor the rider with the highest winning percentage, Baze won the award every year except one. He also won the organization’s Mr. Fitz Award typifying the spirit of racing. Thirteen times Baze recorded at least 400 victories in a year, a feat only 15 other riders have achieved with none of them reaching the figure more than three times. He holds a Northern California record for winning seven races on a card, in 1992 at Golden Gate Fields and again on Aug. 18, 2006, when he won seven straight at Bay Meadows giving him a U.S. record-tying nine straight wins. Baze and Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer combined for a record 2,722 victories together. He and his agent Ray Harris had the longest-running, most productive partnership in racing history. Baze, who was born in Vancouver, B.C., and grew up in Washington, is a member of the U.S. and Canadian Racing Halls of Fame as well as the state of Washington’s. He received an Eclipse Award, racing’s highest honor, after surpassing the 400-win mark for the fourth straight year during a seven-year streak from 1992-98. His peers voted him the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by his peers. He was known for his hard work, integrity, longevity and, most of all his unquenchable will to win.
Narrative by Chuck Dybdal