04/18/2011 11:45AM

Tyler Baze working horses, nearing return to race riding


ARCADIA, Calif. – Jockey Tyler Baze, who has not ridden since July when he suffered facial injuries in a pre-race accident at Del Mar, has been working horses at Turf Paradise in Phoenix this month, preparing for a return to riding in California this spring.

Baze said Sunday that he has not set a date for a return to riding. He said he may ride a few races at Turf Paradise and then return to Southern California. The Turf Paradise season runs through May 8.

“I’m getting fit,” Baze said. “I got cleared to get on horses.”

He said he was “not really sure” when he would resume riding.

“It depends on when I go home,” he said, referring to Southern California. “I want to make sure I’m 100 percent ready.”

Baze began working horses in the mornings after receiving clearance from doctors in late March. He said he chose Turf Paradise because he has friends based there and because it allowed him a more low-key approach to an eventual return.

Baze said he did not work horses Sunday after being involved in a spill Saturday.

“I went down hard yesterday,” he said.

Baze underwent surgery in January in an effort to improve his vision. The operation inserted a plate to an area near the orbital bone of his right eye, which was troubled by double vision after the July accident.

The 28-year-old jockey was injured in an incident before the start of a race at Del Mar, an accident that required facial surgery at the time. Baze was struck in the head by his mount in the moments before the start of a race on July 24. At the time of the incident, Baze was hoping to challenge for the riding title at that meeting. Baze had hoped to resume riding at Hollywood Park last fall, and again in time for the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, which ended Sunday.

That comeback looks likely for the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, which begins Thursday.

“I’m pretty much ready to rock and roll,” he said. “The vision is good. They said it will keep getting better. It needed healing time.”

Leaving New York set for Tiznow

The presence of the graded stakes winner Amazombie in Saturday’s $125,000 Tiznow Stakes at Hollywood Park is keeping trainer Carl O’Callaghan’s confidence from soaring.

O’Callaghan will start the 4-year-old gelding Leaving New York in the race for statebreds over 7 1/2 furlongs. While Leaving New York is a contender following his win in an allowance race March 26, Amazombie won the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes on April 3.

“He came out of the race in great shape,” O’Callaghan said of Leaving New York. “I’m excited, but I’ve got to worry about Amazombie.”

The Tiznow Stakes will be Leaving New York’s first stakes appearance since a fourth in the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar last summer. He emerged from that race with body soreness, which led to a layoff until March, O’Callaghan said.

“He got all jarred up,” O’Callaghan said.

The Tiznow Stakes is one of four stakes worth $125,000 or more for statebreds on Saturday, the California Gold Rush program that features eight races for statebreds.

Leaving New York is owned by Patrick Sheehy, who also owns Kinsale King, winner of the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai in 2010. Kinsale King was scratched from the 2011 running of the Golden Shaheen because of inflammation in a leg and has since returned to Southern California.

Kinsale King missed a scheduled trip to Keeneland last week for the Shakertown Stakes, a turf sprint, after O’Callaghan said the horse had “a slight temperature.”

The $70,000 Cool Frenchy Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 7 may be Kinsale King’s next start, the trainer said.

DRF MORNING LINE: Get out of the gate fast every day - sign up for DRF's free newsletter