01/23/2013 1:49PM

Golden Gate Fields: Baze scheduled to ride in 50,000th race Friday

Shigeki Kikkawa
Russell Baze is named on the morning-line favorite in each of the first six races on Friday's card.

Jockey Russell Baze is approaching another milestone that he can reach Friday at Golden Gate Fields.

Baze, who picked up three wins Monday to increase his career total to 11,836, is just six mounts away from riding in his 50,000th Thoroughbred race. He will be the first U.S.-based rider to reach that mark.

Baze is scheduled to ride the first six races on Friday’s Golden Gate Fields card and is on the morning-line favorite in each race: Supercilious (even money) 1st; Street Consensus (7-5) 2nd; Ma Mel (2-1) 3rd; Run the Blues Away (8-5) 4th; Bi Tomorrow (2-1) 5th; and Finish Rich in Nyc (7-5) 6th.

Laffit Pincay Jr., whose record of 9,530 victories stands second to Baze in North American annals, rode 48,486 races. Eight riders have ridden at least 40,000 races.

Trailing Baze and Pincay are Perry Ouzts at 45,158, Earlie Fires, 45,029; David Gall, 41,775; Jorge Velasquez, 40,852; Bill Shoemaker, 40,350; and Pat Day, 40,299. Mario Pino (39,575) should join the 40,000 Club this year.

Among the 100 winningest North American jockeys, Baze is the leading percentage rider with 24 percent victories.

In addition to his wins, Baze has finished second and third more times than any other rider. His mounts have run second 8,847 times and third 7,263 times. Pincay also is second in the place and show derbies, with 7,784 seconds and 6,650 thirds.

Baze’s mounts have hit the board 56 percent of the time. Only two other riders, Pat Day and Chris McCarron, have hit the board with half of their mounts.

South American rider Jorge Ricardo is the world’s winningest rider, with 11,883 victories.

95-year-old fan honored

Saturday’s fifth race at Golden Gate Fields will be named in honor of Jessie Tribulato, a 95-year-old racing fan from San Francisco who still drives across the Bay Bridge daily to attend the races. The days he doesn’t drive, he rides with his daughter, who works at Golden Gate Fields.

Fifty thousand is barely within hailing distance of the number of races Tribulato has seen in his life, although he looks forward to watching Baze reach that milestone number.

“I knew him when he first came down here,” Tribulato said. “He has ridden 10 or 15 winners for me.”

Tribulato has owned a number of horses. One of the first was claimed for him by Baze’s father and wound up running and winning with trainer Mel Stute at Del Mar.

Tribulato has been attending races at Golden Gate Fields since 1947 as well as races at the now defunct Tanforan and Bay Meadows tracks.

“When I worked in San Jose, my car would automatically turn onto Hillsdale Boulevard” heading to Bay Meadows, Tribulato said with a laugh.

He watched Bill Shoemaker ride as an apprentice and saw the famous Noor-Citation races at Golden Gate Fields in 1950 when Noor set world records while defeating Citation twice.

A native of Omaha, Neb., Tribulato was introduced to racing by his uncles at the old Ak-Sar-Ben track when he was still in high school, running an occasional bet for them.

He came to California in 1938, settling first in the Bay Area, and remembers going to see Nebraska play Stanford in the 1941 Rose Bowl.

“I remember riding a street car out to Santa Anita,” he said.

When he returned to Northern California after living briefly in the Los Angeles area, he went to school in Alameda, learning sheet metal work that he used in helping build “airplane boats.”

He was stationed at McClelland Field in Sacramento during World War II and remembers going to races at the Sacramento Fairgrounds, where there were 25-cent bets.

His best horse was Fearless Bedeaux, who won 11 races for him with trainer Walter Greenman.

“He hit the board every time we ran him until I was in Las Vegas and didn’t get to race,” Tribulato said.

Tribulato, who still has a picture from his 75th birthday party at Bay Meadows on Nov. 13, 1992, is touched by Golden Gate Fields naming a race after him and having a special turf club celebration for him.

“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “My whole family will be there and my friends.”

Not all of his friends, though. The Golden Gate Fields Turf Club isn’t big enough to hold them all.