12/06/2001 12:00AM

Baze has ninth 400-win year

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ALBANY, Calif. - Russell Baze won with his first two mounts on Thursday at Golden Gate Fields to reach the 400-victory mark for the ninth time in his career.

Baze, whose best total was 448 in 1995, won 400 for seven straight years from 1992-98. A broken bone in his back limited his victories to 373 in 1999, but he had 412 victories last year. No other rider has recorded 400 victories in a year more than three times.

"I knew I was close, but I kind of forgot about it till I was coming back and saw the photographer taking pictures," Baze said after winning with Golden Peace ($15) in a six-furlong starter allowance for 2-year-olds.

"I don't start the year planning to win 400 races. When we get to the last couple months, I start taking a look and seeing where we're at. The thing about the record is being healthy. You've got to be able to suit up."