06/01/2005 11:00PM

Baze reaches 9,000-victory plateau


ALBANY, Calif. - Russell Baze, horse racing's second winningest jockey, reached the 9,000 career mark at Golden Gate Fields on Thursday when he rode Queen of the Hunt ($2.80) to a wire-to-wire, one-length victory over She Made It Happen in the day's closing race.

Baze, who trails only Laffit Pincay Jr.'s total of 9,530 on the all-time win list, had ridden Somethinaboutlaura ($3.60) to an easy victory earlier on the card for win No. 8,999.

"When I get close (to milestones), I don't get too anxious," Baze said. "If they counted my Appy wins, I'd be past it anyway. Heck, right now I'd probably be past it if they counted my quarter horse wins."

Baze moved past Bill Shoemaker's total of 8,833 at Golden Gate Fields when he won aboard Hollow Memories on Jan. 22 to take No. 2 on the all-time win list.

Queen of the Hunt made Baze work hard to win the $6,250 claimer at 1 1/16 miles for the milestone victory.

"At the quarter pole, she was starting to get tired, and we were still a long way from home," Baze said. "I kept throwing crosses at her and yelling and she kept going, but she was drifting out. When I'd take hold to try to straighten her out, she started to stop so I let her go to keep as much momentum up as I could."

Jerry Hollendorfer trains Queen of the Hunt, and he and Baze believe they have combined for close to 2,000 victories over the years.

"Jerry's been good to me, putting me on his good horses," Baze said. "There's nobody I'd rather do it for."

Hollendorfer was pleased to be part of the milestone victory.

"We've worked well together," Hollendorfer said. "Everybody in racing knows what it means to win 9,000 races. I was happy to stand there with him. It made my day."

Baze, voted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, is on pace for his 12th 400-win season in the past 14 years. He has led the nation in victories seven times and is currently comfortably in front of Rodney Prescott this year with 195 victories to Prescott's 159.

He won a special Eclipse Award in 1995 when he became the first jockey ever to win 400 races in a year for four straight years.

He won the first nine Isaac Murphy Awards given the rider with the highest win percentage in the nation (with a minimum of 500 mounts) before failing to win in 2004. He won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in a vote of his fellow riders in 2002.