08/24/2011 3:13PM

Del Mar: Baze agrees to random alcohol testing

Benoit & Associates
Jockey Tyler Baze was scheduled to resume race riding Wednesday after reaching a deal with the California Horse Racing Board for alcohol testing.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Jockey Tyler Baze has attended counseling for alcoholism and has signed an agreement for alcohol testing with the California Horse Racing Board in the aftermath of a failed Breathalyzer test at Del Mar last Friday, according to Del Mar stewards.

Baze met with track stewards Wednesday and told them that he has attended three Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in recent days. The signed agreement allows the racing board to conduct frequent alcohol testing, according to steward Scott Chaney.

Chaney said that the testing program will have “mandatory and random components.” Baze will be tested “whenever we want,” Chaney said.

Wednesday, Baze was given a field drug test by racing board investigators about 7 a.m., which he passed. He was then allowed to work horses and did so for several trainers. Later in the day, he took another drug test and a Breathalyzer test, both of which came back negative, Chaney said.

Between workouts, Baze declined to discuss recent events, other than indicating that he planned to ride Wednesday. He did not return a subsequent phone call seeking comment.

Last Friday, Baze failed a Breathalyzer test after displaying erratic behavior during a film review session. As a result, the stewards recommended that Baze be tested by a track physician for pain medication, which the jockey said he was taking after suffering lower back pain when he was unseated in a post parade Aug. 14. The test results were negative for pain medication, but the Breathalyzer test was “higher than the legal limit,” Chaney said last weekend.

Baze did not ride Saturday or Sunday through mutual consent with the stewards.

Baze, 28, was ninth in the jockey standings through Sunday, with nine wins, well behind leader Joe Talamo with 31. Baze had mounts in seven of the eight races Wednesday, but has just three mounts on Friday’s seven-race program.

Baze has battled alcohol-related issues in the past. He failed a Breathalyzer test at Hoosier Park in Indiana in 2005, when he went there intending to ride in a stakes. He was also extremely close to his cousin, jockey Michael Baze, who was found dead in his vehicle at Churchill Downs earlier this year.

Despite his recent personal problems, Tyler Baze has the support of numerous trainers, including Doug O’Neill, who through Sunday was tied for fourth in the standings with eight wins.

“Maybe if I’d never made a mistake, I’d say, ‘Hmmm,’ ” O’Neill said. “We’re all human.”

Wednesday, Baze worked Achak for O’Neill. Achak is a candidate for the Windy Sands Handicap on Sept. 3.

Mile wide open without Courageous Cat

The absence of Courageous Cat from Saturday’s $200,000 Del Mar Mile leaves the race without a heavy favorite and makes the Grade 2 race on turf more competitive, especially from a betting perspective.

Courageous Cat, winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park last month, was considered a candidate for the Del Mar Mile until shipping arrangements could not be finalized, owner Marty Wygod said Wednesday.

A horse charter plane was not available, which would have led to a lengthy journey via Fa ederal Express flight that would have taken as many as 14 hours, Wygod said.

“I didn’t want to have to do that with this horse,” said Wygod, who lives in nearby Rancho Santa Fe. “I would have loved to have run him on my home turf.”

Courageous Cat is based in New York with trainer Bill Mott and is likely to make his next start in the $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 18 as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs in November, Wygod said.

“It’s easier to get to Woodbine,” he said. “That gives us 45 days to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Wygod said the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland in October could be on Courageous Cat’s schedule, if a start in the Woodbine Mile does not occur.

The Del Mar Mile field will include Mr. Commons, winner of the restricted Oceanside Stakes on July 20; Caracortado, who was third in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes here July 23; and the Wygod-owned Calimonco, who won the restricted Wickerr Stakes here July 27.

Summer Soiree eyes QEII Challenge Cup

Summer Soiree, winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 20, will make her next start in the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 15, trainer Graham Motion said Wednesday.

From Motion’s perspective, the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, run over 1 1/8 miles on turf for 3-year-olds, is the main goal for the autumn. The Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs in November is not a likely start.

“I think that would be a little much this year,” Motion said of the Breeders’ Cup. “I think the Queen Elizabeth is the logical sport for her to go.”

In the Del Mar Oaks, Summer Soiree led by as many as 5 1/2 lengths in the stretch and held off a late threat from Star Billing to win by a half-length. Owned by the Team Valor International syndicate, Summer Soiree has won 5 of 11 starts and $371,680.