March 22, 2001
by Steve Andersen
Daily Racing Form
ARCADIA, Calif. - Two months after he was honored with the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding apprentice jockey of 2000, Tyler Baze is still waiting to receive his trophy.
"They said it would be four to six weeks, but it's already been two months," he said Wednesday.
Anxiously awaiting the big package to arrive, Baze has been doing everything in his power to justify the votes. Through Sunday, he was fourth in the ultra-competitive standings at Santa Anita with 40 winners, trailing Laffit Pincay Jr., Victor Espinoza, and David Flores but ahead of Chris McCarron, Gary Stevens, and Corey Nakatani. All of the wins have come since he lost his apprentice allowance in December.
This weekend, with several of the leading jockeys at the Dubai World Cup meeting or at Turfway Park, Baze has a chance to move up in the standings.
Beginning with Wednesday's program, Baze was one victory from tying Flores, who is in Dubai this week. The first two - Pincay and Espinoza - are too far ahead to be caught in the short term.
Baze, 18, will be busy on Friday, riding six of the eight races, including two mounts for both Bob Baffert and Eric Kruljac and one for David Hofmans and R.L. Lockwood. A sweep of the early double with the Baffert-trained Excessive One and Sea Cruise for Hofmans is not out of the question, nor is a win in the last on Thatoldblackmagic for Kruljac.
Excessive One is probably his best chance of the day for a winner. A 3-year-old, Excessive Zone has been second or third in three starts, including a half-length loss on March 1. Friday's race marks Excessive One's turf debut and the first time Baze has ridden him.
Baze was second in the standings at the Fairplex Park meeting last September, and fourth at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting last fall. By comparison, he rode just one winner at this meeting last year when he was primarily based at Turf Paradise.
After a successful second half of 2000, he had lofty goals at the start of this meeting.
"I told everyone I'd be in the top five," he said. "I'm right where I expected, maybe a little higher."
"I want to start Hollywood Park good and do better there," Baze said.
Maybe by then, the trophy will have arrived. Baze already has a place picked out for it. It will be the centerpiece of his locker, a constant reminder of his success from 2000.