10/16/2012 2:07PM

Santa Anita: Tyler Baze gaining mounts, continues to look forward

Benoit & Associates
Tyler Baze got the first stakes win of his comeback aboard Lucky Primo in last Saturday's $175,000 California Cup Classic.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Tyler Baze had ridden the fifth winner of his 9-day-old comeback Sunday at Santa Anita when he was met by his agent, Craig O’Bryan, on the walk from the winner’s circle to the jockeys’ room.

After the obligatory congratulations, O’Bryan gave Baze a reminder of his appointments for Monday morning, which stables he needed to see for workouts. It would be a busy one, which is what Baze wanted to hear.

Tyler Baze is making up for lost time.

“I’m enjoying the mornings the last couple of days,” he said. “I’m getting on a lot of nice horses. It’s a great thrill to be on them. Knock on wood, I’ll get to ride them.”

Baze, who turns 30 on Friday, returned from a 13-month suspension on Oct. 5 for failing to take a Breathalyzer test at Del Mar in September 2011. He was reinstated in September and worked horses for two weeks before he resumed riding.

He won with his second mount and recorded his first stakes win last Saturday, when Lucky Primo won the $175,000 California Cup Classic. Gaining mounts in the Breeders’ Cup races on Nov. 2-3 is his next objective.

Tuesday, trainer Jeff Mullins, a longtime supporter of Baze’s, said that he plans to start Dry Summer and Gabriel Charles in the BC Juvenile Turf and that Baze is likely to ride one of them, if they make the race.

Earlier this year, that would have seemed unlikely for Baze. As part of his reinstatement, he was required to attend a 30-day in-house treatment for alcohol dependency. He is currently residing in such a facility in nearby Pasadena for a few more weeks, he said, a point he quickly downplayed Sunday.

“All that is behind me,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be talked about.”

He would prefer the focus was on his riding. Baze started the current autumn meeting a week after it started, but says he can be in the top five in the standings at Betfair Hollywood Park in November and December.

“I believe I can,” he said Sunday. “Business will pick up. I rode six in a row today. I’ve got my main trainers that have supported me through thick and thin since I started riding.”

Trainer Peter Miller gave Baze the mount on A Toast To You, who won Sunday.

“I’ve always liked Tyler,” Miller said. “I was looking for a live mount for him. He’s a great guy, very talented, and a great rider. He’s riding like he has everything together.”

The nation’s champion apprentice of 2000, Baze has won 1,814 races. Aside from the recent suspension, he missed eight months of riding from July 2010 to April 2011 after suffering an eye injury when a horse reared back and struck him behind the gate at Del Mar.

Those absences, and the tragedy of the death of his cousin, jockey Michael Baze, from a drug overdose in June 2011, led some to question whether he would ride again.

“It’s good to see him back and trying to get his life back,” Mullins said. “There were times when you thought he might not.”

Mullins did not hesitate to support Baze when he returned to working horses last month. Mullins says Baze’s best asset is his sense around horses, in the mornings and during races.

“Tyler is not only a jockey but he’s a horseman,” Mullins said. “He loves horses. I think that’s a big key. A lot of the guys learn how to ride from a jockey’s school. They’re not brought up around horses into a racing family.

“It gives Tyler an edge. In the mornings, there is no one better. He’s a good work rider, and you don’t have to draw him a picture.”

The Cal Cup Classic is Baze’s richest win this month. Lucky Primo has a poignant name for the rider. When Tyler and Michael Baze were riding together, he said they would leave the room by saying, “Good luck, Primo,” which is Spanish for cousin.

That crossed Tyler Baze’s mind before the Cal Cup Classic.

“I think he was there,” he said of his late cousin. “I said a little prayer.”

Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
Somebody should tell Tyler to read these comments. He is not getting the PVal treatment, because he still has a chance to make the best of his talents and life
Anthony Allen More than 1 year ago
Welcome back Tyler Baze, and Big up Yourself, BumboKlaaat. You are one of my favorite riders in SoCal. Go Tyler, Go Tyler, get yo Ride on.
Stargazer46 More than 1 year ago
I have loved this young man since he first started out riding. Remember the braces?? Tyler, just take it a day at a time. You heard what Jeff Mullins said, "you are a good horseman" if riding is taking a toll on your mental and physical health, give it up; tackle training. Don't let the thing you love be the thing that breaks you down. You have a clean slate, the world is your oyster..all those cliche's fit....go for it! (I can't believe he is 30!!! Now I am old)
Pat More than 1 year ago
Next time you jump on a horse or any jockey jumps on a horse remember someone is trusting you with their assets. Would you have a valet park your ferrari if you knew he was corked? Some of these animals cost much more the a ferrari. IMO the help jockey's need is for minimum weights to be rasied like in Europe. Take some of the pressure and pounding their body take. And also agents who actually give them good advice. Next to that the guy has talent. You dont win as many races as hime just because your on a good or live horse.. Many of the races he has won was puerly due to his tlent..a lesser rider would have lost many of those same wins.
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
LOL Jesus? Really? Not inappropriate?
Mario Vargas More than 1 year ago
Now that my friends is getting "A second chance". Good for you Tyler! Seize those opportunities and make up for lost time and biz. Looking forward to cashing in on a few Baze singeltons. Good luck!
Jim Eggers More than 1 year ago
I am always happy to see a great young man get back to doing what he does best. I hope Tyler remembers is is a day by day thing. I hope he stays healthy, and gets some live mounts.
Dave Schuler More than 1 year ago
Superfecta-P.Val-G Gomez- T Baze- Chantel-(Help Each Other -Best Of Luckj-Ride On)-DS
Alexis Monroy More than 1 year ago
All humans make mistake, watching Tyler back I was very happy. and winning with Lucky Primo even more. I bet on him on sunday, and last year too. Best of luck from Venezuela.
M More than 1 year ago
Neat comeback story. I have nothing but support for jockeys. I just read "Jockeys" by Scott Gruender and have watched the "Jockeys" series twice straight through on NetFlix. I believe some of these jockeys may be self medicating due to the stresses of their profession: excruciating injuries, near starvation diets, constant dehydration, extreme risks in each race, tremendous financial pressure, constant pressure to perform. Not many jobs that tough--anywhere. And many make meager amounts of money. You have to win (alot) and win big races to make a comfortable living. I own a fraction of a thoroughbred and the syndicate gets more than the jockey that risks his/her life. Sounds like they have more diversion programs and support today. But one wonders if there are not more precautions and benefits that could help jockeys. Generous insurance coverage, personal trainers, better facilities, dietician (all paid by track), and allowing just 1-2 lbs through course of race day to let jockeys at least drink some water could help their health. The helmets could probably use some state of the art additions, as well, to protect the eyes and face. The rails are better today but the gate can still be a death trap: think metal cage on top of a1,200 lb animal that is only semi-domesticated.
Nina Fields More than 1 year ago
Tyler used to play in my shedrow in Yakima, in his diapers, I've followed his career from day one, looking to DRF on the internet daily, to see his results. He is a very special rider, and all you can hope for,is that his addictions can be faced and overcome. During his career, no other top rider has a better win percentage with big priced horses. If he had ridden the quality of stock that other leading riders get, he would be number one wherever he rode. Put him on the same horses Russell rides and the results would be as good or better. The same with Gomez or Rosales, etc, etc. Tyler, keep your nose clean and be the best you can be, because that will be great!! You can still go down in history as one of the great riders of all time; don't sell yourself short. I look everyday to see your results. Someday, I hope I can have another horse good enough to bring to southern California and name you on!!