Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. Today’s post is one I have found so interesting to research and I had to share it! It is quite unbelievable and I cannot believe I hadn’t heard of it before now. It isn’t the longest post, but it definitely one of the more interesting stories I have seen!
When AP McCoy rode over 4000 winners when retiring, we all thought that was an incredible achievement – which of course it was! But would you believe me if I told you there is someone in the world who had 3 times the amount of winners that AP did? Let’s get right into the story of Russell Baze.
Russell Avery Baze was born on August 7th 1958 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His father Joe Baze is a former jockey and trainer who was competing at Exhibition Park in Vancouver at the time, so therefore Russell was given dual Canadian/American citizenship.
In 1974 at 16 years old, Russell started his career as a jockey, debuting in Walla Walla, Washington and that year he recorded his first victory at the Yakima Meadows racetrack on October 28th on board Oregon Warrior. Russell’s first big win came in 1975 when he won the Gottstein Futurity at Emerald Downs race track.
By the early 1980’s Russell was becoming a well known name within racing after winning recording some big wins across California including the 1981 California Derby. On October 14th 1989, Russell was riding Hawkster when he set the Santa Anita Park track record for 1 and 1/2 miles on turf.
In 1995, Russell was honoured with a special Eclipse Award after winning 400 or more races in a year for four consecutive years. From then on he won 400 or more races in a year 7 more times – No other jockey has accomplished this more than 3 times.
In 1995, the Isaac Murphy Award was created to be presented annually by the National Turf Writers Association to the jockey with the highest winning percentage in North America. Russell ended up winning this 13 out of 14 years – finishing second in 2004.
In 1999, Russell was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and in 2002 he was voted the winner of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by his fellow jockeys.
On December 1st 2006, Russell set the world’s all-time record for the most career victories, which was previously held by Laffit Pincay Jr with 9530 wins. Russell won on board Butterfly Belle – his 9531 career victory.
On February 1st 2008, Russell rode Two Step Cat to victory in a photo finish at Golden Gate Fields to become the first North American rider to win 10,000 races. Then just 2 years later on August 14th 2010 at Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California, Russell rode Separate Forest to victory to win his 11,000 race. On July 7th 2013, Russell won on Handful of Pearls in Pleasanton, California, this being his 12,000th win.
On June 12th 2016, Russell Baze guided Wahine Warrior into second place at Golden Gate Fields and after doing so told his long-time agent and friend Ray Harris “That’s it. I’m going to retire.”
At the time of retiring, Russell Baze was the jockey with the most career victories in the world with a huge 12,844 wins, 9,600 seconds and 7,855 thirds. He rode a total of 53,578 times and earned $199,334,219 in his career.
Two years after his retirement he lost the title of the jockey with the most career victories in the world, when Brazillian Jorge Ricardo bypassed him, with 13,069 career wins as of March 15th 2021. However Russell keeps the record of the North American jockey with the most career victories.
Russell Baze won 12,844 races including some of the biggest races in America including the California Derby in 1981, El Camino Real Derby in 1984, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2014, Oklahoma Derby in 1996, Bay Meadows Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2002, Churchill Downs Handicap in 2006, Aristides Breeders’ Cup Stakes in 2006, Azalea Breeders’ Cup Stakes in 2008, California Oaks in 2009, San Francisco Breeders’ Cup Mile in 2010 and Berkeley Handicap in 2013 and 2015.
He also won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2002, the Isaac Murphy Award in 1995-2003 and 2005-2007, Eclipse Special Award in 1995 as well as the United States Champion Jockey by wins in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
Maybe I’m naïve and I haven’t paid attention to what was happening around the world, but I can’t believe I had genuinely never heard of Russell before now. Reading his story and learning about his career has been really eye opening for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope you have all enjoyed this slightly shorter post!
I will see you all Saturday morning at 11am with a brand new post!