08/28/2008 11:00PM

Baze explains his choices of stakes mounts


DEL MAR, Calif. – Decisions, decisions, decisions. Jockey Tyler Baze has had it about up to here with decisions.

This summer at Del Mar, Baze has been in the enviable position of being able to pick from multiple mounts for two lucrative races – the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 24 and Monday’s $250,000 Del Mar Debutante.

For the Debutante, Baze will ride Empressive Lady, the sharp winner of a maiden race in her second start on July 27 for trainer Jeff Mullins. Baze could have ridden Evita Argentina, an undefeated filly he rode to a one-length victory for trainer John Sadler in the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes here on Aug. 6.

“I’ve given up a lot of horses for Jeff’s filly,” he said. “When I got on her, I said, ‘This is my Breeders’ Cup horse.’”

Baze put off the decision until Sadler asked for an answer earlier this week. “We tried to wait as long as we could,” Baze said. “John wanted a decision. It took a lot of thought.”

Earlier this summer, Baze won the biggest race of his career aboard Mast Track in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup. But for the Pacific Classic, Baze chose Awesome Gem, who was third in the 2007 Breeders’’ Cup Classic. Mast Track finished third under Rafael Bejarano, while Awesome Gem finished seventh.

“It’s tough to take off the good horses,” Baze said. “People say, ‘Why did you do that?’”

In the case of Awesome Gem and Mast Track, Baze thought there was more to the situation than just picking a mount. He realized that Bobby Frankel, who owns and trains Mast Track, frequently rides Bejarano or Garrett Gomez on his top horses and that one of them may gain the mount if Baze did something wrong. Conversely, Baze felt that Craig Dollase, who trains Awesome Gem, would stick by him.

“I just won the biggest race of my career on that horse,” Baze said of Mast Track. “Look at the way [Frankel] uses Bejarano and Gomez. He loves those guys. Craig’s not going to take me off. The owners like me.”

At this time of year, the decisions can have long-term ramifications. Jockeys are trying to arrange mounts for the Breeders’ Cup programs. If they give up the wrong horse in August or September, it may prove impossible to regain that mount before the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Oct. 24-25.

That is why Baze says he is getting out of the decision business, and leaving future judgment to his agent, Ronnie Ebanks.

“After this meet, I’m telling Ronnie, ‘This is your job,’ ” Baze said.

Baze has been in high demand at this meeting. Through Thursday, he ranked third in the standings with 31 wins, trailing only Bejarano with 39 and Joel Rosario with 32.

Wake Up Maggie wins at 15-1

Baze rode Wake Up Maggie to an upset win in the restricted $86,000 Adoration Handicap for fillies and mares on Thursday.

Wake Up Maggie ($33.40) rallied from fourth in a field of 10 to win by 2 3/4 lengths over 27-1 Super Freaky. Model, the 6-5 favorite, finished third. Wake Up Maggie ran the mile on the main track in 1:35.42, a track record.

Trained by Julio Canani, Wake Up Maggie, 5, was making her first start on a synthetic track in this country. She made her first four starts on turf, including a win in the restricted Long Beach Stakes at Hollywood Park in May. Wake Up Maggie was sixth in the Redondo Beach Stakes in June and the Grade 2 CashCall Mile in July at Hollywood Park, but was later found to be suffering from a throat ulcer, Canani said.

Four winners collect $371K pick six

Wake Up Maggie’s victory made the pick six an even more difficult bet to win. With a two-day carryover of $473,943 leading to heightened interest, bettors added $1,822,857 to the pool on Thursday.

There were four winning tickets, each worth $371,480. The winners of the pick six races were Storm Seige ($17.80), Form a Posse ($7.40), Carrie With a C ($8), In My Glory ($8.40), Wake Up Maggie ($33.40), and Texas Devil ($6).

S.S. Stone to miss Futurity

S.S. Stone, the winner of a maiden race at Hollywood Park in June, will not start in Wednesday’s $250,000 Del Mar Futurity because of an apparent bruised foot, trainer Doug O’Neill said.

S.S. Stone finished last of eight in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 10 in his stakes debut.

“It looks like a bruised foot,” O’Neill said. “It’s no major, major thing.”

O’Neill will have two starters in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity – the maiden race winners Escalon and Wild Wild Posse. Azul Leon, the winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Best Pal Stakes, will be pointed for the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 28.

The other probable starters for the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity are Arashi Cat, Blazing Spirit, Believe in Hope, Coronet of a Baron, Kelly Leak, Mensa Heat, Midshipman, Southern Exchange, and Street Hero.