09/02/2011 6:02PM

Del Mar: Baze admits story was false


DEL MAR, Calif. - Jockey Tyler Baze admitted to Del Mar's stewards on Friday that his absence on Thursday was an attempt to avoid taking a Breathalyzer test that day, and the troubled jockey's indefinite suspension, announced Thursday afternoon by the stewards, will remain in effect, thus removing Baze from his mounts for at least the remainder of the meeting, which closes Wednesday.

Baze met with the stewards for 20 minutes Friday afternoon, during which time he admitted that the car accident he cited as a reason for his absence did not occur.

"Today he told us that he was trying to avoid a Breathalyzer test," steward Scott Chaney said.

"It was like pulling taffy, but eventually the truth came out," steward Kim Sawyer added.

"We told him, 'This is what we know,' and he eventually came clean," Chaney said.

Following the meeting, Baze, 28, was accompanied by Bob Fletcher, who heads the Winner's Foundation, an organization that assists racetrack personnel with substance-abuse issues.

"We want him to get some counseling," Sawyer said.

Sawyer, Chaney, and the third Del Mar steward, Tom Ward, all said that the suspension of Baze stands until a formal hearing is held. Ward said the hearing would not take place until a complete investigation by the California Horse Racing Board, after which Baze would be given 10 days' notice of the hearing.

The investigation, Chaney said, would include what transpired Thursday, as well as an incident two weeks ago in which Baze was removed from his mounts after failing a Breathalyzer test.

Considering the timetable of the investigation and hearing, the earliest Baze would be able to ride would likely be the fall meeting at Santa Anita, which begins at the end of the month. But the stewards said they were more interested right now in seeing that Baze gets the assistance he needs.

Following the failed Breathalyzer test last month, Baze signed an agreement stipulating that the racing board could test him at any time. On Thursday, Baze was asked to take a test, but he left the grounds. He said he had gone to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, gotten into a car crash, and then wound up at a local hospital.

According to the stewards, their preliminary investigation showed that the car crash never took place, and that Baze may have attended an AA meeting that morning, but not in the time frame he initially cited.

During Baze's suspension, he is denied access to all racetracks.

Baze has 10 wins from 134 mounts at the current Del Mar meeting, which places him 10th in the jockey standings.

Baze has had trying times in the past year. He was extremely close to his cousin, jockey Michael Baze, who was found dead in his vehicle at Churchill Downs earlier this year. And Baze returned to riding earlier this year after being sidelined for several months following an accident at Del Mar last summer, when he was head-butted by a horse and suffered severe facial injuries that affected his vision.

Baze was the nation's Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey of 2000, but in the past has taken time off to deal with health and personal issues. He has admitted in the past to attending AA meetings, and he was treated several years ago for an eating disorder.

In 2005, Baze was suspended for seven days after failing a Breathalyzer test at Hoosier Park, where he had gone for a stakes mount.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen