Baze Focused On Winning Races In Pursuit Of Fairplex Riding Crown
September 20, 2002
Tyler Baze has never won a riding title in his brief career of three-plus years, but at Fairplex Park through Thursday, he was only one victory behind perennial leader Martin Pedroza, 10-9.
"I was second here twice," said the baby-faced Seattle native, who turns 20 on Oct. 19, "but this would be my first."
Baze, whose father Earl and mother Cammie are former jockeys, had to rethink his riding style when he came to Pomona's five-eighths of a mile track after traversing the major ovals of one mile and larger.
"It was an adjustment the first year I rode at Fairplex because it's three-eighths of a mile shorter than a regular track," said Baze, who has more riders in his family than there are in most jocks' rooms. Not only were his father and mother jockeys, but second cousin Russell Baze, perennial Bay Area king, is in the Hall of Fame, uncle Gary Baze is the all-time leader at Longacres and Dale Baze, Russell's brother, rides in Florida.
"Most tracks are a mile and this is five-eighths," Baze said of Fairplex. "The first time I rode here was really difficult learning how to ride the turns and the track, but now it's just like riding a mile track. As far as winning the title being meaningful to my career, I'm out here to focus on winning races and that's what I'm going to try to do."
Baze has been given first call on trainer Bill Spawr's horses during the 17-day Pomona season. Riding for such a successful barn gives him an advantage.
"Spawr's a really nice guy and a good trainer," Baze said. "I'm also riding a few for Doug O'Neill and John Sadler and a lot of little guys who only have one or two horses. They help me out, too. Those guys only get a chance to win a couple races, so I like riding for them. But I like riding for everybody. My big barn here though, is Spawr. We've got first call on everything for him."
Although Baze will be barely out of his teens, he is mature enough to recognize momentum when it builds and negativism that losing can breed. He is not eagerly awaiting the start of Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Oct. 2.
"Actually, I wish this meet would run all year long," Baze said. "It's a great track and I don't have to ride against Laffit (Pincay Jr.), Alex Solis and Pat (Valenzuela). They're riding favorites in every race and I'm the one riding 10-1 shots trying to get them to run. I get my few (winners against them) but I get good calls here and I can ride some favorites and it's more fun. It's not just a case of being a big fish in a small pond. When you win races it keeps your confidence level high. When you're not winning and a horse isn't running good, it's hard on a person, it really is. When you do better, you have a better attitude, better spirits all the time and horses can feel it. They run harder for you if you're trying harder.
"I'm more comfortable dealing with the media now than I was when I first started. At first it was kind of a shock. Now, I've been through it all.
"I go race by race and look at the (Daily Racing) Form, and do what the trainers tell me to do. If a trainer tells me to take back, I'll take back. If he says go to the lead, I'll go to the lead and see how long the horse lasts. A lot of trainers don't say anything. They say, 'Ride the horse like you own him' and I'll ride the best race I can when the gate opens."