09/17/2010 3:31PM

Baze's spot atop rider standings subject to change


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Going into Friday’s racing action at Arlington Park, Michael Baze held a 93-90 lead over Junior Alvarado in the race for leading jockey this meet. Or did he?

Alvarado rode five horses earlier this summer who were disqualified after testing positive for banned raceday medications. In all five cases, the positive test and its penalties are under appeal, which leaves the status of those Alvarado wins up in the air. In another case, Alvarado’s mount was promoted to first through a postrace disqualification, so, with the net loss of four victories, Alvarado would have entered Friday’s card here actually leading the standings, 94-93 had not the rulings come down.

The question of whether a win counts as a win during an appeal process following a drug-related disqualification seems to have no clear answer. Eddie Arroyo, chief steward at Arlington, said that a win still counts on a horse’s record during an appeal, even if the win was taken away through a medication positive. So, for instance, a horse who won a maiden race would not be eligible to start in a maiden race during the appeal period, even though the horse’s maiden status would return if the appeal was denied.

But as for counting jockey wins, Arroyo said there was no precedent to make a decision.

“We’ve never had an issue like that,” said Arroyo.

Equibase, a part of the Jockey Club and racing’s official record-keeper, does appear to have a position on the issue, however. Equibase officials told Arlington’s publicity staff that a postrace disqualification retains its status during an appeal, and is only overturned if the appeal is successful and the ruling against a horse reversed. So, for now, Alvarado will have to actually win five more races than Baze to capture his second straight riding title.

Baze, for his part, could put the matter to rest by pulling away during the meet’s final seven days. He won race 1 Friday aboard 1-5 shot East Coaster for leading owner Frank Calabrese, but it is Alvarado who was named on several Calabrese-owned horses on Sunday’s card. Stay tuned.

Acclimating nicely

Baze, meanwhile, has made the most of his new Chicago home this summer, and stands on the brink of a riding title just five months after making his first appearance in Chicago.

Baze, 23, moved his tack from Southern California this year after his business on the West Coast had grown somewhat stale.

“I thought I’d do well, but not this well,” he said.

Baze was riding almost everything for leading trainer Wayne Catalano early in the meet, but in midsummer, Catalano took Baze off much of his stock, replacing him with Shane Sellers. That actually allowed Baze to expand his client base, and in recent weeks, he has been back aboard many of the live Catalano horses.

Baze has no plans to return to California now, and said he and agent Jay Fedor would move to Kentucky after the meet ends here next week. Baze plans to ride at Keeneland and Churchill and go on to Oaklawn Park for the winter.

“It’s going to be a little tough, but there are a couple people I know down there,” said Baze, referring to the competitive Keeneland meet. “I want to continue to do well, and that’s where I need to be.”

Alvarado headed to New York

Alvarado, too, will shift his tack to Keeneland in October, and he hopes to retain the mount on Eclair de Lune, who he rode to victory in the Beverly D. Stakes, in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. But after finishing up in Kentucky this fall, Alvarado will switch things up. He said he plans to spend the winter at Aqueduct while changing agents. Oscar Sanchez has booked mounts for Alvarado the last two years, but Alvarado said Mike Monroe will represent him in New York.

“It’s going to be cold,” said Alvarado, who has never wintered at a northern track. “But its something I want to do.”

Alvarado, a 24-year-old Venezuelan, was virtual unknown when he came to Arlington in 2008, but he had a successful meet two summers ago before winning the riding title last year. Alvarado rode almost everything for leading owner Frank Calabrese much of this summer, and he and Sanchez have hung tough even after losing the Calabrese business late in the meet.