06/07/2011 11:01AM

Baze ending Golden Gate Fields meet with a bang


Since he returned last Friday from serving a three-day suspension for a riding infraction, there has been no stopping Russell Baze. Baze will try to continue his roll in the $50,000 Lost in the Fog on Saturday during the final weekend of the Golden Gate Fields meet.

The world’s winningest jockey with more than 11,000 victories, Baze won with his first five mounts last Friday before finishing fourth on his sixth and final mount. He didn’t slow down on Saturday, winning four more races. He swept the first three races, including a victory on For Sure for Sure at $14.40 in the opening race of the day. He willed Shesawontontomato to victory in the sixth race, refusing to let her stop even though she appeared done at the quarter pole.

Baze wound up the week with two more winners Sunday, and he leads the jockey standings with 154 victories. Kevin Krigger, who also had two wins Sunday, is second with 67 wins.

Baze has accumulated incredible stats since returning to the Bay Area in 1992 after a brief sojourn to Southern California.

In 1992, he began a seven-year streak in which he won at least 400 races. Since the inception of the Isaac Murphy Award in 1995 to honor the jockey with the highest winning percentage in the nation, Baze has won the award every year but 2004 when Ramon Dominguez won.

Baze consistency this past decade has been unmatched. He has won with 29.68 percent of his mounts since 2000 and has a 30.8 winning percentage since 2005.

“I know some people say he does it only because he rides in Northern California and because he gets the best horses, but no one else has done what he’s done anywhere,” said Baze’s agent, Ray Harris.

In next Saturday’s Lost in the Fog, Harris had to choose between putting Baze on the filly City Route or the colt Mighty Monsoon. City Route, a wire-to-wire winner in her debut, is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the trainer for whom Baze rides most often. Mighty Monsoon, who also won his debut while making up 10 lengths in the final quarter-mile, is trained by Jeff Bonde.

Baze will ride Mighty Monsoon.

“It was not an easy decision,” Harris said.

As impressive as Mighty Monsoon’s victory was on paper, Harris isn’t sure how to gauge it.

Neither is Bonde, although he noted Mighty Monsoon overcame quite a bit of trouble.

“It’s a good thing to see a horse overcome adversity,” Bonde said. “I didn’t think he’d be that far back, but he broke a little slowly and got bumped around. He gave a good run. It was a good first start.”

Bonde was impressed by the Forestry colt’s pedigree and the fact he’s a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Meadow Breeze. He was surprised to have purchased him for $7,000.

Bonde doesn’t expect Mighty Monsoon to be on the lead even if he breaks better Saturday.

“He’s a large colt,” Bonde said. “You’re not going to see speed, but he should be much closer than last time.”

Bonde is going for his third straight Lost in the Fog victory and he would be happy if Mighty Monsoon could follow in the footsteps of his past two Lost in the Fog winners.

Smiling Tiger, who won a pair of Grade 1 races at age 3 last year, is one of America’s top sprinters again this year. Road Ready won a stakes in his 3-year-old debut this year.

“We’re hoping,” said Bonde. “That’s the fun part of 2-year-olds, to see how far they go.”

Time for juveniles

Through the first two days of this week, the final one fo the Golden Gate meet, 2-year-olds will be in the spotlight just as they will be Saturday in the Lost in the Fog.

There are five maiden races slated for Thursday and Friday, with a particularly interesting filly race Thursday that features Yuma Thurman, who was second to City Route in her debut.

Hollendorfer sends out an entry with Milania, a $190,000 November Keeneland purchase, and the aptly named Big Girl, whos is a Zenyatta-like 17 hands tall and who went for $6,500 at the same sale. Baze rides the $6,500 purchase.

Closing weekend events

Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, and the entire Belmont card will be simulcast. First post at Golden Gate Fields is 11:45 a.m.

The track hosts a Belmont Stakes Wine Festival on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. next to the winner’s circle. For $20, fans receive a Golden Gate signature wine glass, five tastings from the East Bay Vintner’s Alliance, and hors d’oeuvres.

Sunday’s closing Dollar Day program will feature the band Tainted Love.

Author Richard J. Maturi will be at the track to autograph copies of his book “Triple Crown Winner: the Earl Sande Saga” on both Saturday and Sunday.