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Tyler Baze talks to stewards, awaits ruling on regaining jockey's license
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Tyler Baze, who has not ridden since June because of an alcohol-related suspension, moved closer to reinstatement after discussing the terms of his current rehabilitation with track stewards on Saturday.
Steward Scott Chaney presided over the meeting and indicated that despite a recent relapse of alcoholism by the jockey that he would vote to grant Baze a license to resume riding in the near future. Chaney said that he and fellow stewards Kim Sawyer and Tom Ward would issue a ruling on Baze’s case “in coming days.”
“I think it’s time to get your license back, but I’m just one vote,” Chaney said.
At the same, Chaney told Baze that another alcohol-related violation would be the end of his riding career in California.
“I can imagine that if you slip up, you’ll never have a license in California again, especially if I’m a steward,” Chaney said.
Baze has not ridden since June 13 when he failed a sobriety test at Betfair Hollywood Park. In July, he was suspended four months, retroactive to June 13, and ordered to undergo a 60-day in-house rehabilitation; undergo evaluation with the Winner’s Foundation, which aids people in California horse racing with substance abuse issues; comply with the terms of a testing agreement with the California Horse Racing Board; and attend a fitness-for-license hearing with the stewards.
In late July, Baze was involved in a traffic accident in Santa Rosa and was jailed for five days for driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. Baze had a blood-alcohol level of 0.354 percent, more than four times the California legal limit of 0.08, according to California Highway Patrol records.
Baze began his 60-day residency program shortly after that arrest, competing the term in early October.
At a fitness hearing before Chaney, Sawyer, and Ward at Santa Anita on Oct. 19, the stewards were told that Baze had not undergone an evaluation with the Winner’s Foundation. The evaluation took place in November, at which time Bob Fletcher, the executive director of the organization, required Baze to commit to a two-year contract for rehabilitation.
The contract requires Baze to live in a sober living house for at least a year, attend at least five 12-step programs weekly, abstain from alcohol, work with a sponsor assigned by the Winner’s Foundation, relinquish use of his old cell phone and use one in which the Winner’s Foundation controls with whom he speaks. In addition, Baze carries a field breathalyzer device that allows a monitoring company to test him at their discretion.
“He needed structure in his life,” Fletcher said. “We’ll give it to him. He’s an alcoholic. If he drinks again, he will not be a jockey, he’ll be a prison inmate because that is the order from the court.”
While Baze has worked with the Winner’s Foundation in recent weeks, he told the stewards that he had a drink as recently as Nov. 20, and immediately sought assistance from the Winner’s Foundation and other members of his support group.
“I had a slip,” Baze said. “I talked to Bob about it and that was it. I messed up.”
Baze said he began living in the sober living house in early November. He is not eligible to drive until late in 2014, and said that he rides a bike to some appointments or asks for rides. He said he attends as many as eight to 10 meetings a week to fill the time.
“I do what Bob tells me to do,” he said.
Baze also stated that he needs to return to riding because of a lack of income, telling the stewards that the Winner’s Foundation is paying for his remote testing breathalyzer program and his rent at the sober living house.
“Frankly, I’m broke and I need to go to work,” Baze said. “This is the only thing I know how to do.”
Fletcher asked the stewards to reinstate Baze before the conclusion of the current Hollywood Park meeting on Dec. 22, the final day of live racing in track history.
The July suspension was the second for Baze in two years. Baze, 31, was suspended at Del Mar in August 2011 for failing to take a breath test. The terms of that suspension required a 30-day residency rehabilitation program. Baze did not immediately comply with those terms and was reinstated under a conditional license in October 2012.
At the time of his suspension earlier this year, Baze was in the midst of an excellent 2013 season. On June 13, he was tied for the lead in the jockey standings at the spring-summer meeting at Hollywood Park. Baze is best known for winning the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding apprentice jockey of 2000.
A tragedy waiting to happen. It will end with this line, quoted from above: “I had a slip,” Baze said. “I messed up.” His problem goes way beyond horse racing. Far from being 'one of the good guys', he's extremely lucky nobody got killed: "In late July, Baze was involved in a traffic accident in Santa Rosa and was jailed for five days for driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. Baze had a blood-alcohol level of 0.354 percent, more than four times the California legal limit of 0.08, according to California Highway Patrol records."
I don't care what anyone says, I truly hope Tyler can get straightened out. He is one of the good guys of racing. While the bottle didn't pour itself down his throat, that crap is cheap, readily available and dangerous. once that junk gets its grip on you, it is hard to break free. Come on Tyler, you have to be stronger than the bottle if you want to win.
maybe he never saved a penny.. lots of sport people do that ..even people who win the lottery become broke..it called stupid people
That's harsh! He's like 115? 5 beers and he's toasted. How can he be broke?
It's easy to come down on Tyler Baze because he is just an individual. Racing will go on just fine without him. However, if CA really wants to clean their image, there should be more investigating and stiffer punishment for unscrupulous trainers. CHRB won't cross that bridge because the game cannot continue without them. Look at what the losses of big trainers has done to SoCal racing. It wasn't long ago when a Program included the names of Whittingham, Gary Jones, Frankel, Gosden, Lukas, Stute, and others I've forgotten. SoCal has not been able to replace them yet.
From Steve Howe to Tyler Baze....an athlete who cannot comply to authority;a commission faced with policing the sport,and keeping the public trust;a ruling that will attempt to save the life of one,while putting others in jeopardy.....these are issues that are difficult to handle,and easy to criticize,especially when success depends upon turning weakness to strength.I don't envy the stewards,who try to prevent tragedy.
Man if this was a regular jjoe working in a factory you would never get these shots at returning to your job over and over this is a joke and your playing with peoples life stewards and everyone in the raceing industry .Do YOU THINK ITS FAIR LET THE FANS BRING THEM BACK WITH A VOTE ITS OUR MONEY WE WORKED FOR TO LOSE HOPEFULLY FAIRLY .WHAT A JOKE
Being a jockey in So Cal is a real privilege and in my modest opinion guys like Baze and Valenzuela continuously abuse that privilege. The gig is up and it's time to cull the heard. Alcohol and drugs impair judgement and sooner or later somebody is going to get killed out there. It's tough enough getting around safely without having to worry whether the guy in the next stall is drunk or stoned. Licence him as an exercise rider, he can make a living if he decides to hustle
Does anyone know what happened to PVal? Haven't seen him riding since late in the SA fall meet.
Did Chaney say the same thing to Valenzuela? LOL YEAH RIGHT!!! P VAL had more chances than Marcos had shoes!