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Baze Gets Riding Title on Winning Weekend

Times Staff Writer

While he was at Canterbury Park in Minnesota winning one of the Claiming Crown races Saturday, jockey Tyler Baze wrapped up his first local riding title.

Victor Espinoza needed to win seven times at Hollywood Park to extend the race into closing day, but fell three short, clinching matters for Baze, 21.

Baze won two more on Sunday, including a wire-to-wire win atop 3-1 second choice Star Over The Bay in the $150,000 Sunset Handicap.

It was the second stakes victory of the meet for Baze and he was on the 6-year-old gelding only because Sabiango, the horse he would have ridden, had to miss the Grade II because of a minor setback. Sabiango had given the jockey his only other stakes win in the Charlie Whittingham Memorial Handicap on June 12.

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Claimed by trainer Mike Mitchell for $80,000 for owners G Racing, Carl VanBurger and Landon Vaughn on May 16, Star Over The Bay held off 4-5 favorite Continuously the length of the stretch to prevail by a nose.

In winning for the seventh time in 37 starts, the Florida-bred ran the 1 1/2 miles on turf in 2:26.47.

“This has really been exciting for me,” said Baze, who is the youngest jockey to win the spring-summer meet in Inglewood since Laffit Pincay Jr. in 1968. Pincay was two months younger than Baze.

“I won [the $125,000 Emerald with Stage Player] on Saturday, then a big one today to go along with the riding title,” said Baze. “It couldn’t have happened any better for me.”

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Impressed with Star Over The Bay when he easily defeated $62,500 claimers on March 7 at Santa Anita, Mitchell decided to claim the gray the next time he had the opportunity.

“I thought I would be shaking with a lot of people for this horse that day and I was the only one who put in a claim,” said Mitchell. "[Former trainer] Vladimir [Cerin] did a great job getting this horse ready to run. There wasn’t a lot that I did to this horse and I feel he really likes the harder turf courses in California.”

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The average on-track attendance at Hollywood Park was down 1.8% from the previous year and the total handle was down 1.4%.

Despite the slight declines, the track did have record handle on the days of the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

“The big days were encouraging,” said Rick Baedeker, Hollywood Park’s president. “Business was strong throughout the Triple Crown and the popularity of the American Oaks continues to grow.”

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

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Del Mar Facts

* What: Horse racing at Del Mar.

* When: Wednesday-Sept. 8 (43 days).

* Post times: 2 p.m. Wednesday-Monday with the following exceptions: 4 p.m. on July 23, July 30, Aug. 6 and Aug. 13; 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 20, Aug. 27 and Sept. 3; 1 p.m. on Aug. 22.

* Significant races: $400,000 John C. Mabee Handicap (Saturday), $250,000 Bing Crosby Breeders’ Cup Handicap (Sunday), $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (Sunday), $150,000 San Diego Handicap (Aug. 1), $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (Aug. 8), $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (Aug. 21), $1-million Pacific Classic (Aug. 22), $250,000 Del Mar Debutante (Aug. 29), $250,000 Del Mar Handicap (Aug. 29), $400,000 Del Mar Derby (Sept. 6) and $250,000 Del Mar Futurity (Sept. 8).

* Leading jockey (2003 meet): Patrick Valenzuela (52 wins).

* Leading trainer (2003 meet): Bob Baffert (23 wins).


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