Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Baze leads Indian Express bandwagon

April 7, 2003
By Steve Anderson
Daily Racing Form

ARCADIA, Calif. - Second-place finishes in major races are getting old for 20-year-old jockey Tyler Baze.

On March 29 in Dubai, Baze rode Avanzado to a runner-up finish in the $2 million Golden Shaheen.

On Saturday, Baze nearly guided 35-1 Indian Express to an upset in the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, losing by a head to Buddy Gil.

"I need to win one of these big races," Baze said on Sunday.

Best known so far as the 2000 Eclipse Award winner as the nation's outstanding apprentice jockey, Baze hasn't won a big race in recent weeks, but his career got a massive boost over the weekend.

On Sunday, trainer Bob Baffert said that Baze will have the mount on Indian Express in the Kentucky Derby on May 3. It will mark the first Kentucky Derby for Baze, whose career started in 1999.

Indian Express has defied expectations to become a Kentucky Derby hopeful. A Utah-bred by Indian Charlie who began his career with two sprint wins in Panama, Indian Express was making his second start for Baffert in the Santa Anita Derby.

On March 22, Indian Express finished fourth in the San Pedro Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs, in his first start for owner Phil Chess.

In the Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles, Baze was instructed to take Indian Express to the lead. The fourth-longest shot in a field of nine, Indian Express dueled with Ocean Terrace on the backstretch, led briefly on the final turn, and went after Buddy Gil throughout the stretch while racing along the rail.

"He did what he had to do," Baffert said of Baze. "I like jockeys that listen to me."

In the final furlong, it briefly appeared that Indian Express might beat Buddy Gil.

"He tried so hard," Baze said. "It's nice to have that feeling of being on a horse that tries so hard. "All the way down the lane, I kept saying, 'Give me a little more.'

"I don't think he was fit enough to go that far. It was his first time around two turns. I've got a lot of confidence that none of those horses in that race will beat him again, now that he's fit."

While walking back to the jockeys' room, Baze could barely contain his excitement over Indian Express's performance. Baffert noticed the same enthusiasm when Baze returned to the unsaddling area.

"He was so happy he had bugs in his teeth," Baffert said.

Back to Articles