01/16/2003 1:00AM

Baze winner of Murphy again


Russell Baze will remain the one and only rider to be presented with the Isaac Murphy Award.

The award, first presented in 1995, honors the jockey with the highest winning percentage during the calendar year. For the eighth year in a row, Baze was that rider, finishing 2002 with 431 wins from 1,508 rides, for a 28.6 win percentage.

Jerry Bailey, who led the U.S. in money won in 2002, was second, with a rate of 25.6 percent.

The National Turf Writers Association named the Isaac Murphy Award after a 19th century African-American jockey who won the Kentucky Derby three times and retired with a 44 percent win rate.

Baze has won more than 400 races in 10 out of the last 11 years and is one of only six riders to win more than 8,000 races.