02/06/2006 1:00AM

Baze, Garcia finish in dead heat


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Bay Meadows's thrilling jockey race not only went down to the last day but also to the last race. When apprentice Martin Garcia brought Sloat Blvd home 1 1/4 lengths in front of Bear Cub in the ninth and last race Sunday, it gave him 47 victories and a tie for the title with Russell Baze.

For Baze, the title is his 27th straight at Bay Meadows. He also has won the title the past 35 Bay Meadows meets in which he has ridden. It is the first riding title anywhere for Garcia.

Both won two races Sunday. Garcia survived a third-race spill when Rare Request suffered a fatal breakdown. Garcia won the final race after Baze had won twice earlier in the day to take the lead.

"I didn't feel anything when I fell," said Garcia, 20. "People have told me to stay on the ground, so I didn't move. I cleared my head real quick, and, when the doctor asked, I told him I was all right."

Garcia survived some bumping at the head of the stretch when pinned on the rail in the nightcap. He led wire to wire, and when it appeared he would be headed, he switched sticks and got Sloat Blvd to persevere.

Garcia, whose agent is Roger Olguin, thanked trainer Steve Miyadi, who had given Garcia the mount on Somethinaboutlaura. She won the Foster City on Saturday and gave Garcia his first stakes score.

Said Miyadi: "I have no qualms about riding him on any horse, especially in stakes. He did everything just like we scripted it. I'm just hoping this kid remembers me in a couple of years."

The race that may have earned Garcia the tie with Baze was Sunday's second. Baze was listed aboard 7-5 morning-line favorite Muevete, who was scratched. Garcia picked up the mount late on All Thee B and won the race to take a one-victory lead over Baze.

Garcia said he has been approached to shift his tack to Southern California, but on Sunday he said: "I'm not going to move right now. Things are going good, so I'm going to stay here."

Garcia, who has been riding Thoroughbreds for only a year, still works two days a week in the delicatessen where he worked full time before its owner introduced him to the racetrack.

Baze earned his share of the title by winning the sixth and seventh on Sunday. He did not ride the ninth.

About keeping his string of Bay Meadows riding titles intact, Baze said: "It's not that important. I wouldn't lose any sleep if I lost, but it's always nice to keep a spot on top of the pile."

Baze, who with 9,182 wins through Sunday is second all-time behind only Laffit Pincay Jr. (9,530), said Friday that he hoped to get at least 10,000 wins and get the total up "to where nobody can match it."

Pointing to Garcia, Baze said, "My immediate goal is to see if I can end up in front of that little bug boy."

Sierra Sweetie to run here Saturday

Trainer Jeff Bonde has good news for racing fans but possible bad news for fellow trainers.

He said that the stakes winner Sierra Sweetie, northern California's top 3-year-old filly, will use Saturday's $100,000 California Breeders' Cup Oaks as the next step toward Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Oaks. Bai and Bai, who has exchanged stakes victories with Sierra Sweetie, is also being pointed to the California Breeders' Cup Oaks by trainer Bill Delia.

Stewards' rulings

Jockey David Lopez will sit out five racing days, Feb. 11-17, for "failure to make a proper effort to maintain a straight course in the stretch and causing interference," according to a stewards' ruling, aboard Dream Place in Thursday's eighth race. He was also fined $50 for reporting late to the jockeys' room on Jan. 29.

Kevin Krigger was suspended three days, Feb. 10-12, after Awesome Jared was disqualified from first to third in Thursday's seventh race.

* Trainer Greg Gilchrist has his eye on the April 22 Golden Gate Fields Sprint for the return of Eclipse sprint champion Lost in the Fog. He expects to give Lost in the Fog his first work this weekend and has mapped out a nine- or 10-work schedule for him before he runs.

* TOC Director-North Jim Ghidella will host a seminar for new owners on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the walk-in gate entrance to the stable area near the clubhouse turn.