11/23/2006 12:00AM

Record call likely to be impromptu


SAN MATEO, Calf. - Michael Wrona was at the microphone at Hollywood Park on Dec. 10, 1999, when Laffit Pincay Jr., aboard Irish Nip, went past Bill Shoemaker with his 8,434th victory to become racing's all-time winningest rider. Wrona, now the Bay Meadows track announcer, will also make the call when Russell Baze passes Pincay, perhaps as soon as this week.

Baze started the week 11 victories behind Pincay and won with four mounts Wednesday and, with four of his six mounts in the books, one on Thursday, to lift his total to 9,524, only six behind Pincay's record of 9,530. He was to ride three horses on Friday, and he has seven mounts Saturday, when Pincay will be at Bay Meadows in anticipation of Baze breaking his record.

Thinking back to the Pincay countdown, Wrona said, "The anticipation mounts daily."

Wrona, who also called Cigar's 16th straight victory at Arlington Park on July 13, 1996, which tied Citation's record, said, "You approach it differently with a situation like this rather than in a feature race. You don't know when it will happen."

Wrona is prepared for the record victory but doesn't know what he will say.

"If you rehearse a call, that's a recipe for disaster," he said.

"It might be a busy finish with three or four horses on the line where you might not have time to do anything with it. The worst might be having too much time if a horse is in front by five turning for home."

Pincay tied Shoemaker in a photo finish. Wrona's call:

"I Be Casual coming after Bay Fox. A.J. Flyer on the inside. I Be Casual's just in front of A.J. Flyer. I Be Casual's just in front - a photo finish. I think I Be Casual - Pincay's got it! He's equaled the record, nosing A.J. Flyer, with Bay Fox third."

Wrona had a chance to do more in the record-setting ride, saying, "Past the eighth pole, Irish Nip still a length in front. Pincay gets a whiff of immortality as Irish Nip is finding plenty on the lead. Responding to the Pincay power, it's Irish Nip surging clear . . . as Laffit Pincay Jr. becomes the world's all-time winningest jockey."

Wrona finds himself in a bit of a quandary as he prepares for an historic call. He wants to find the proper perspective to describe not only the race itself but also the career achievement.

"I haven't been quite sure how to approach it," Wrona said.

"When you've got Pincay battling Shoemaker, you have two undisputed greats. With Russell, because of the circuit he competes on, there are some with reservations about the record. It leaves me wondering how to strike a balance."

Still, Wrona said, "How can you be anything but engaged in what is a monumental achievement."

- additional reporting by Jay Hovdey