09/04/2009 11:00PM

Carlsbad welcomes back Tyler Baze


DEL MAR, Calif. - Sporting a new look, about a three-day growth of beard, jockey Tyler Baze returned from a 13-day layoff caused by a broken pinky to ride one horse on Friday's nine-race program at Del Mar.

Carlsbad made Baze forget that injured finger when she gave the most impressive performance of her career in the $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap.

Facing older fillies and mares for the first time, Carlsbad won the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo by four lengths in track record time of 1:14.93 for 6 1/2 furlongs.

"To come back with one like her as my first mount, and to win a stake and set a track record, it doesn't get much better," Baze said. "I'm really touched."

Baze celebrated with warm hugs with trainer Jeff Mullins and others in the winner's circle after the victory by Carlsbad, who is owned by Dennis Weir.

"I'm so glad that Dennis and Jeff stuck with me and allowed me to ride this horse back," Baze said. "This is so special."

Baze, 26, has been Carlsbad's regular rider since she was moved from Arizona to Mullins's stable in late winter. Since then, Carlsbad has won 3 of 5 starts, with all the wins coming in graded stakes. She won the Grade 3 Santa Paula Stakes in March and the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks in June.

In all of her wins, she has fought for the early lead and pulled clear. In the Rancho Bernardo, Baze kept a firm hold on Carlsbad for the first quarter-mile. She took the lead in early stretch and pulled away late to win as the 7-5 favorite. Lady Lumberjack finished second. The expected challenge from Evita Argentina from off the pace never materialized. She finished sixth.

Mullins said he had no reservations about using Baze despite his recent inactivity.

"He was out here the day before and galloped one and worked one for us," Mullins said. "When two other jockeys didn't show for works, he worked those horses. We never had a problem."

Carlsbad, 3, earned an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 6 through her win in the Rancho Bernardo, but the filly was not nominated to the Breeders' Cup program as a yearling and may not start in that race, Mullins said.

Bred by Weir, Carlsbad, by Rocky Top, has won 7 of 9 starts and $387,126.

Baze has only three mounts on Monday, but two are in stakes. He rides Yogaroo in the $100,000 I'm Smokin Stakes and Make Music for Me in the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity.

Pure Class opts for maiden route

Pure Class, who was scratched from Saturday's $300,000 Darley Debutante over seven furlongs, will start in a $53,000 maiden race over a mile on Monday, trainer John Sadler said.

Sadler said the easier competition and the distance were the reasons for the change in plans.

"This is 100 times better," Sadler said. "I was unsure whether the 2-year-old filly long race would fill. She really wants to run a distance."

The maiden race also includes Seriously and Dixie's Sandles, who were second and third in a highly rated maiden race on Aug. 16.

Sprained thumb bothering Bejarano

Jockey Rafael Bejarano took off his mounts midway on Friday, citing a sprained thumb, according to his agent Joe Ferrer.

He was taken off his mounts on Saturday, and was hoping to ride two stakes on Sunday, pending doctor's clearance, according to steward Ingrid Fermin.

Bejarano rode one horse on Friday, Brian the Brave, to a fifth-place finish in the first race, but did not ride the rest of the program.

The thumb injury occurred last weekend and had been bothering the jockey for several days, Ferrer said.

Bejarano, the leading rider in California in 2008, returned from a five-week layoff on Aug. 28 after suffering facial injuries in a spill on July 22.