08/22/2011 2:34PM

Tyler Baze to meet with Del Mar stewards on failed breathalyzer

Benoit & Associates
Tyler Baze (above) has had a tough year that has included the death of his cousin Michael.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Jockey Tyler Baze must meet Wednesday with Del Mar’s stewards, who said he likely would have to pass tests for drugs and alcohol before being allowed to ride again after failing a breathalyzer test on Friday.

Baze, 28, was off his mounts Friday, Saturday, and Sunday after failing the breathalyzer test, which was ordered by the track physician and stewards because of concerns over his behavior earlier Friday during a film session, according to Scott Chaney, one of Del Mar’s three stewards along with Kim Sawyer and Tom Ward.

According to Chaney, Baze came in Friday to look at films from an incident in a race on Thursday. During that film session, Baze’s behavior prompted stewards to send Baze to the track physician, who recommended Baze be tested for pain medication – which Baze said he had taken because of an ailing back – and for alcohol. Baze also was removed from his mounts that evening.

On Saturday, the tests came back negative for the pain medication, but the breathalyzer was “higher than the legal limit,” Chaney said. At that point, by mutual agreement, Baze was taken off his mounts for the remainder of the weekend, Chaney said.

“We’re having a meeting Wednesday morning,” Chaney said. “At this point, a subsequent penalty is not contemplated. Some would say having three days off is enough of a penalty, though that was by mutual agreement.”

Up until Sunday afternoon, Del Mar’s publicity staff, acting on information provided by the stewards, had said Baze was off to address his ailing back. Stewards, through their employer, the California Horse Racing Board, are required to publicly post the minutes of their actions, so the actual reason for Baze’s absence was bound to be found out at some point.

“We didn’t want to throw him under a bus,” Chaney said.

In the past year, Baze has had trying times. He was extremely close to his cousin, jockey Michael Baze, who was found dead in his vehicle at Churchill Downs earlier this year. And Baze returned to riding earlier this year after being sidelined for several months when he was head-butted by a horse at Del Mar and suffered severe facial injuries that impacted his vision.

Baze has 9 wins from 106 mounts at the current Del Mar meeting, which places him ninth in the jockeys’ standings.

Baze was the nation’s Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey of 2000, but has taken time off to deal with health and personal issues. He has said that he previously attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

In 2005, Baze was suspended for seven days after failing a breathalyzer test at Hoosier Park, where he had gone for a stakes mount.

– additional reporting by Steve Andersen