11/29/2007 1:00AM

Michael chases Tyler in battle of Bazes

EmailINGLEWOOD, Calif. - What slump?

Jockey Michael Baze waited weeks for a day like Wednesday at Hollywood Park. From five mounts, Baze had four wins, including on Charm the Giant in the $68,775 Intercontinental Handicap for fillies and mares over a mile on turf.

The four-win day pushed Baze into third in the overall standings with 12 wins, behind his cousin, Tyler Baze, who leads with 18 winners, and Garrett Gomez, who has won 14 races.

Michael Baze said he was growing weary of "seconditis," having finished second in 18 races from the opening day of the fall meeting on Nov. 7 through Wednesday. The leading rider at the Hollywood Park spring-summer and Del Mar meetings, Michael had what he described as a "slow meeting" at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, finishing with 16 wins, well behind Tyler, who led all riders with 29.

With more than three weeks remaining until the end of the Hollywood Park fall meeting on Dec.o22, Michael has a chance to overtake Tyler for the riding title. Michael lists Romance Is Diane, a starter in Saturday's Bayakoa Handicap, and Out of Control, the winner of the Oak Tree Mile in October, as two mounts he is most looking forward to riding.

Michael's winners on Wednesday came with all sorts of horses. He won a $10,000 claimer on Royal Classic, a maiden claimer on Love Happens, a $25,000 claimer on Cry Me No River, and Charm the Giant in the Intercontinental.

Charm the Giant ($4.40) was favored in the Intercontinental and ran accordingly, closing from third to win by three lengths over 42-1 I Can See in 1:34.56. Owned by Debbie McAnally and trained by her husband, Ron, Charm the Giant was making her first start since finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes here in May. She won the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap over a mile on turf here last April, the first time that Michael rode the 5-year-old mare.

He was impressed with Charm the Giant's rally through the final quarter-mile in the Intercontinental.

"That was one of her good races," he said. "I could really feel her take off."

Charm the Giant has won 7 of 15 starts and $336,309. She will be pointed for the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, McAnally said.

Balance to be bred to A.P. Indy

Balance, the winner of three Grade 1 stakes, will be bred to A.P. Indy in 2008, owner John Amerman said on Wednesday.

Trained by David Hofmans, Balance, 4, was retired after finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27. She ended her career with 6 wins in 16 starts and earnings of $1,048,491.

A.P. Indy was chosen because "it matches up beautifully on all the background," Amerman said. "It's too expensive to buy an A.P. Indy, so we might as well breed one."

By Thunder Gulch, Balance is co-owned by Amerman's wife, Jerry. Balance won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes and Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in 2006 and the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap earlier this year.

Hofmans ends drought

Hofmans ended a 62-race losing streak dating back to Greg's Gold's win in the Pat O'Brien Handicap at Del Mar in August when Behr It and Grin won a maiden race for California-breds in Wednesday's sixth race.

Hofmans has winning chances on Saturday and Sunday's programs at Hollywood Park.

Saturday, he starts the 2-year-old colt Coast Guard in a maiden race over 6 1/2 furlongs. Sunday, Hofmans starts Greg's Gold and Council Member in the $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes over six furlongs.

Coast Guard, owned by the Amermans, faces a strong field on Saturday, including Talk of a Cat, who was third in a maiden race at Keeneland in October, and the first-time starters Kearns Prints, John Eli, and Street Royale.

Coast Guard finished second in his career debut, which came on Polytrack July 18 in the first 2-year-old race of the Del Mar meeting. By Stormy Atlantic, Coast Guard will add blinkers for Saturday's race.

"He had a little issue off the Polytrack and he seems to be doing well," Hofmans said.

Hofmans said that Coast Guard recently outworked Behr It and Grin.

Talk of a Cat was beaten 2 1/2 lengths in his career debut by the promising Racecar Rhapsody at Keeneland on Oct. 25.

"He does act like he's got some ability," said Michael McCarthy, who oversees trainer Todd Pletcher's California stable.

On Thursday, it was unclear whether Kearns Print would start. A colt by With Approval, Kearns Print suffered mild stomach cramps on Thursday morning, alarming trainer Brian Koriner.

"He tied up a little bit," Koriner said. "It just concerns me."

McAnally starts John Eli, who is by Pulpit out of the stakes-winning mare Madame Pandit. John Eli is a half-brother to the four-time stakes winner Mea Domina.

Street Royale, trained by Bob Hess, Jr., drew the outside post in a field of 11. By Street Cry, Street Royale has been working quickly at Santa Anita.

Big show prices

The show payoffs in Thursday's second race were inflated after the heavily favored Harlene finished last of six in a maiden race for California-bred 2-year-olds.

Harlene, third in the California Cup Juvenile last month at Santa Anita, attracted $63,460 of the $73,496 bet to show. Race winner Fantasy Free paid $23.40 to win and $21.20 to show. Runner-up Cloudbreaker paid $13.80 to show, and third-place finisher Prize of the City paid $22.60 to show.