09/21/2008 11:00PM

Tyler Baze refreshed for new meet


POMONA, Calif. - The Fairplex Park meeting was about 90 minutes old on Sept. 5 when jockey Tyler Baze realized it may be time for a vacation.

Baze escaped injury in a two-horse spill in the fourth race that day when his mount ducked through a temporary railing.

"The horse outside of me started to take a left and my horse did take a left," Baze said. "I thought I was hurt, but I was lucky. Maybe somebody was trying to tell me something."

Baze went home to Christina, his wife of two months, and suggested that their honeymoon should be moved from early November, to, like, now. It had been postponed until November because of the summertime racing schedule in California.

"I told her to pick somewhere and we'll go," he said.

The couple spent eight days in Tahiti before returning to California late last week. On Wednesday, when Baze resumes riding on the opening day of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, he will attempt to continue a streak of success that includes major stakes wins at Del Mar and a tie with Garrett Gomez for third in the jockey standings.

Over the next five weeks at Santa Anita, Baze's focus will be as much on big race wins as attempting to overtake Rafael Bejarano as the circuit's leading rider.

On Saturday and Sunday, a weekend of eight major stakes at Santa Anita that are preps to the Breeders' Cup races on Oct. 24-25, Baze has a strong list of rides. On Saturday, he rides Tres Borrachos in the $500,000 Goodwood Stakes, Marzelline in the $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, Cost of Freedom in the $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes, Wake Up Maggie in the $250,000 Lady's Secret Stakes, and Empressive Lady in the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes.

On Sunday, he rides top California juvenile Midshipman in the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes and Awesome Gem in the $200,000 Oak Tree Mile.

"I can't wait," he said. "It could be a really big weekend."

The 2-year-olds Empressive Lady and Midshipman have his attention as much as any runners.

Midshipman is unbeaten in two starts, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs on Sept. 3, the closing day of the Del Mar meeting. The Grade 1 Norfolk will be Midshipman's first start at 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as the BC Juvenile on Oct. 25.

"Midshipman is a special horse," Baze said. "I can't wait to ride him back. Hopefully, he'll win his second Grade 1 on Sunday."

Empressive Lady will start in the Oak Leaf under a bit of a cloud. She was fifth as the 2-1 favorite in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 1, a loss that Baze is ready to forgive.

"I was a little disappointed in that race," he said. "I thought she'd win for fun. She didn't have a big turn of foot. Maybe she had an off day."

The Oak Leaf distance of 1 1/16 miles may work in Empressive Lady's favor, Baze said.

"Going a route, I think she'll like that," he said.

Success this weekend could position Baze, 25, for his first win in a Breeders' Cup race. He has had only five Breeders' Cup mounts in his career and has not ridden at the event since 2004.

At the least, Baze is returning to riding refreshed. "Del Mar was awesome," he said. "I needed a vacation. It's nice to get a little break."

Nine stakes opening week

The eight major stakes at Santa Anita this weekend include six Grade 1 races on Saturday and a Grade 1 and a Grade 2 on Sunday. Seven of the eight stakes are part of the Breeders' Cup's Win and You're In program, offering automatic berths to winners for Breeders' Cup races, subject to entry fees. The Grade 3 Monrovia on Wednesday is also a Win and you're In race.

The Goodwood Stakes will be one of the more intriguing betting races of the weekend. Well Armed and Mast Track, second and third in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 24 in their most recent starts, are part of a field that includes Albertus Maximus, Spirit One, Surf Cat, Tiago, Tres Borrachos, and Zappa.

Colonel John, the winner of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga last month and the leading 3-year-old in California, is skipping the race to train up to the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 25.

Colonel John is trained by Eoin Harty, who may have two runners in the Norfolk - Coronet of a Baron, the runner-up in the Del Mar Futurity, and Desert Party, the winner of the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga in July who was sixth in the Hopeful Stakes there on Sept. 1.

Harty cautioned that he may only have one runner in the Norfolk, and could hold out Coronet of a Baron to prepare him for the BC Juvenile.

"I'll make that decision this week," he said. "He had two tough races at Del Mar."

Coronet of a Baron was second in the Best Pal Stakes in August in his stakes debut. Desert Party will start in the Norfolk. "I think he needs to run," Harty said. "I think two turns will work for him."

Delgadillo retires

Agapito Delgadillo, 42, a journeyman rider in California, retired from riding earlier this week, but he might stay involved in the sport in some capacity, according to his agent Rolando Hevia, Jr.

Delgadillo was scheduled to have his final mounts on Monday at Fairplex Park.

"He's burned out," Hevia said. "He wants to consider taking some time off. He wants to keep the door open for down the road, but in reality he is retiring. You may see him galloping horses for [trainer] Victor Garcia."

Delgadillo, among the leading riders at the Fairplex Park meeting that ended on Monday, rode in Northern California before moving to Southern California earlier this decade. A native of Mexico, Delgadillo rode at Los Alamitos in 2004-06 before focusing on the main Thoroughbred circuit in recent years.

Among his top winners were Jungle Prince, the winner of the 2006 Governor's Cup Stakes at Fairplex Park, and Swiss Diva, the winner of the 2006 California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita.