Updated on 09/16/2011 8:34AM

Baze records 8,000th victory

Vassar Photography
Russell Baze notches his 8,000th career victory aboard Ourwhistlebritches in the eighth race at Bay Meadows on Saturday making him only the fourth rider to reach that milestone.

SAN MATEO, Calif. - Russell Baze became the fourth jockey in history to record 8,000 victories, reaching the milestone with a wire-to-wire ride aboard Ourwhistlebritches in the eighth race at Bay Meadows on Saturday.

Baze joins Laffit Pincay Jr., Bill Shoemaker and Pat Day in the exclusive club.

"It feels fantastic," Baze said of reaching the milestone.

It was also timely.

"That was my last one (mount of the day), and it was really important to do it today," said Baze, who was joined in the winner's circle by his wife, Tami, daughters, Trinity, Brandi and Cassie, and son, Gable. "A couple of my girls (Brandi and Cassie) are going back to college (Azusa Pacific) tomorrow (Sunday)."

Appropriately, the silks he wore in the victory were emblazoned "The Champ" on the back.

Bay Meadows presented Baze with an off-road motorcycle to commemorate the victory, prompting a wide grin. "How cool is that?" he said when he got off the motorcycle, which he rode back to the jockey's room after riding the length of the grandstand to the applause of fans.

"I'd like to thank Bay Meadows. This is a great gift," Baze said at the presentation ceremony when he thanked fans for their support and owners and trainers for "putting me on horses."

"I've had a wonderful ride up until now, and I've got a couple years left in me," he told fans.

"It's incredible," winning trainer William E. Morey said. "Just to be around a guy like Russell Baze, to have him ride for you and win for you is a treat," winning trainer William E. Morey said. "There are none greater in my eyes."

Morey said that on Friday night he and Baze's agent, Ray Harris, talked about the possibility of Baze reaching the milestone aboard Ourwhistlebritches. Baze won No. 7,999 aboard Viva's Pride in the sixth race and had three other mounts.

"It's incredible," Morey said. "We talked about it last night and said it might happen."

The victory wasn't as easy as it looks on paper.

Just as she entered the stretch, Ourwhistlebritches ducked out a couple of steps to the right. Baze straightened her out and was never truly challenged down the lane.

"She took a little right-hand turf on me, but everything else went like we wanted," Baze said. "I said to myself at the top of the lane that I hoped those three or four steps wouldn't cost me the race.

"I'd worked her before and she worked good, but she tailed off at the end so I had to take a peek back to make sure no one would catch me."

Baze was presented with a poster proclaiming his 8,000th victory as Bay Meadows showed a highlight film of his career.

Looking at the poster in the jockey's room, Baze said, "Not too many guys have one of these."

Baze does as an official 8,000 Club member.

"Those are really good riders," he said earlier of Pincay, Shoemaker and Day, "and they are really good people, too."

They added a worthy member to their club with Baze.