05/14/2007 12:00AM

Baze taking some personal time


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Tyler Baze, the nation's champion apprentice of 2000, said on Saturday that he is taking a break from riding this spring to deal with health and personal issues, but that he intends to return before the start of the Del Mar meeting on July 17.

When he returns, Baze will have a new agent. Ron Ebanks will replace Ivan Puhich, who said on Sunday that he plans to stay to stay involved in an advisory role and help Ebanks through the end of the Del Mar meeting on Sept. 5. Puhich has been Baze's agent since the jockey's career began in 1999.

Baze has not ridden since May 4. Since that time, he has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and worked on improving his nutrition and fitness with a personal trainer, he said.

Baze, 24, said that in April doctors told him his nutritional habits had deteriorated to the point that it was affecting his health.

"I want to get physically and mentally back on my game," Baze said. "I want to be 100 percent, not 99 percent."

Baze has struggled to find winners this year. At this meeting, Baze has 1ovictory from 14 mounts. At the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, Baze won 20 races from 284 mounts, a 7 percent win rate. His last riding title came at the 2004 Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.

"I don't like coming out here and riding one horse a day," Baze said.

Ebanks said that Baze will resume exercising horses this week at Santa Anita but has not put a time frame on a comeback.

"Once he mentally feels good and physically feels better, we'll decide on a day to ride," Ebanks said.

This is the second time in two years that Baze has struggled with personal issues. In 2005, he fought anorexia during the summer and was later suspended for seven days for failing a breathalyzer test at Hoosier Park, where he had gone for a stakes mount.

During a conversation in the box-seat area on Saturday, Ebanks often spoke on behalf of Baze, who at times seemed uncomfortable taking about his difficulties.

"He's stumbled and fallen and decided to get back up," Ebanks said. "To get back to the top level, he realized he had to step away. Tyler said, 'I'm going to make a full commitment to myself.' "

Baze has been working with Mike Rossi, a Los Angeles-based fitness instructor, who called himself Baze's "life coach and personal trainer."

Rossi, who is attending alcoholism counseling meetings with Baze, accompanied Baze to the races on Saturday. Rossi has worked as a personal trainer with people from a variety of professions, including actors, endurance athletes, and mixed martial arts fighters.

DeLima to appeal suspension

Trainer Jose DeLima said over the weekend that he intends to appeal a 30-day suspension he was given by Santa Anita stewards last Thursday for an animal welfare violation at Santa Anita earlier this year.

DeLima trained Eligant Wager, who broke down and was euthanized on Feb. 10, a day after she was scratched from a $10,000 claiming race at Santa Anita because of unsoundness. The suspension term is from May 24 to June 22.

DeLima was cited for a rule adopted in 2006 that reads, in part, that no person under the jurisdiction of the racing board can "cause an animal under his control or care to suffer any form of cruelty, mistreatment, neglect or abuse."

In their decision, stewards Scott Chaney, Albert Christiansen, and Tom Ward wrote that "this case involved a situation in which [DeLima] failed to follow basic procedures relating to horse care, the adherence to which the catastrophic injury to Eligant Wager might have been avoided."

DeLima has been denied a stay by the California Horse Racing Board. DeLima, 45, said his attorney, Steve Schwartz, would appear on his behalf in court this week to ask for a restraining order that would allow him to continue training until an appeal is heard.

Eligant Wager was scratched because of unsoundness in her right foreleg, according to a report filed by state veterinarian Dr. Greg Beck. Eligant Wager was being exercised on Feb. 10 when she broke down in the stretch. Exercise rider and jockey Rodrigo Duran suffered a fractured right leg and a broken collarbone in the spill.

Reached on Sunday, DeLima said he felt the stewards were making an example of him.

"I believe they tried to show me off," he said. "I didn't have any idea the horse would break down. From my point of view, the horse was okay."

Eligant Wager had 1 win in 18 starts and $40,620. At the time of her death, she was co-owned by DeLima and Jose Romero.

Lava Man workout rescheduled

Lava Man, the leading older horse in California for the last two years, did not work out over the weekend as planned, but will work in the next week, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

Lava Man is being pointed for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on June 30 and has not started since finishing last in the Dubai Duty Free in the Middle East on March 31. Earlier this year, he won the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf and successfully defended his title in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on dirt.

O'Neill said that Lava Man's exercise rider, Tony Romero, was not impressed with the way Lava Man galloped last week and asked that the workout be postponed.

"Tony said he wanted to wait for a few extra days," O'Neill said. "Tony felt he wasn't as strong behind, so we jogged for a few days and galloped him" on Sunday.

Mendoza has options for Hurry Home Warren

Trainer Jesse Mendoza won his first career stakes with Hurry Home Warren in the Harry Henson Stakes for 3-year-old turf sprinters on Aprilo27.

Mendoza will start Hurry Home Warren in a $100,000 Grade 3 stakes this weekend, but has not decided whether the gelding will run in Saturday's Will Rogers Stakes at a mile on turf or Sunday's Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes at seven furlongs. Both races are for 3-year-olds.

"I think he can do both," Mendoza said. "It's a matter of whether he can be effective at seven furlongs."

The Henson Stakes was run at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf, and was Hurry Home Warren's stakes debut. Owned by Christopher Drakos, Hurry Home Warren has won 2 of 9 starts and $115,270.

In either stakes, Hurry Home Warren will face a stern test. The Will Rogers will include Mayor Bozarth, who was stakes-placed at Fair Grounds in March, as well as Silent Soul, Worldly, and Yario, allowance race winners in April.

The Barrera field is led by Try to Fly, the unbeaten winner of the San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita on April 8.

* Jockey Martin Pedroza has been fined $750 using his whip aboard Smooth and Saavy in the post parade for the third race on May 5. Smooth and Saavy finished third in a maiden race for sprinters.