08/26/2003 11:00PM

Baze faces Lumpkins for title

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Russell Baze will be gunning for his 30th Bay Meadows riding title when the fall meet opens Friday.

Baze has won every major northern California meet he has competed at since his first title during the 1980-81 meet at Bay Meadows. He had 97 victories at the spring meet, one more than the combined total of runners-up Ron Warren Jr. (52) and Roberto Gonzalez (44).

Jason Lumpkins, who has given Baze his stiffest competition in recent years, will ride at the Bay Meadows meet after moving to Kentucky last winter.

"Hopefully, I can be the leading rider or second-leading rider," Lumpkins said. "Russell's a great rider and super hard to compete with. My job is to come out and do my homework and do what I can to get some of my old mounts again."

Lumpkins will again be represented by Dennis Patterson. He will ride in six of Friday's eight races.

Lumpkins finished second to Baze in the last three meets they rode together at Bay Meadows. He led most of the 2001 spring meet before Baze rallied to win the title 95-89. They finished one-two in the 2002 spring and fall meets.

The two square off early in Friday's opening day feature, a one-mile allowance race on the turf for fillies and mares.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, winner of 26 straight Bay Meadows training titles, puts Lumpkins on Pleas Deal and Baze aboard No Peso No Dance in the field of eight.

Three horses in the race scored turf victories at the Bay Meadows Fair.

Lovely Ticket won a $12,500 claimer at 4 1/2 furlongs, Dancing Sands won a $25,000 claiming race at one mile, and Badgett's Mango won her maiden at one mile.

Claiming changes considered

Bay Meadows is trying to eliminate some of its conditioned claiming races at the suggestion of trainers. The conditions offer horsemen opportunities to run in more competitive spots, but the conditioned claimers can create smaller fields.

Liebau said the track will approach change carefully.

"You don't want to drive horses out of northern California because they can't compete," he said.

On Tuesday, Liebau named Tom "Bomber" Doutrich the new racing secretary at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields.