Russell Avery Baze
Russell Avery Baze has the unique distinction of being the winningest jockey in the history of thoroughbred horse racing with 9,587 career wins to his name. He broke the previous record of 9,531 set by Laffit Pincay Jr when he took first place at Bay Meadows on 1 Dec 2006 on Butterfly Belle – at the time he was 48 years old. Over the years, Russell Baze has enjoyed a prosperous career as a jockey and this certainly isn’t his only achievement. Baze was also awarded an Eclipse Award in 1995 for winning 400 or more races in a year for four years in a row, a George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2002 and an Isaac Murphy Award in 2004 for having the highest winning percentage. It is interesting to note that Baze has won 400 or more races a year seven more times since receiving the Eclipse award – a feat which has not been accomplished more than three times by any other jockey in the past. When one considers all Baze’s racing successes there is little wonder that he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2002 – an honor that has helped to make him a living legend.
It all started very early for American Russell Baze. His father, Joe Baze was a former jockey and horse trainer who was competing in Vancouver the very day that Russell was born, thereby giving him dual citizenship. That was in August 1958 and on that day no one could have guessed just how much success Russel Baze would grow up to enjoy. He began his racing career in Walla Walla in Washington at the age of just fifteen and by the next year, he had already claimed his first victory at the Yakima racetrack. By his early twenties, Baze had gained a reputation as being a force to be reckoned with. This 115 pound man was winning numerous victories across the country and breaking track records as he went. Today he has won 36 titles at Bay Meadows, 26 at Golden Gate Fields and he holds the 1½-mile turf track record at Santa Anita Park.
After many years in the saddle, Baze has earned himself a reputation for being a hard worker with plenty of dedication, natural ability and a passion for winning. At his current rate of winning, it is estimated that Baze will have won an astounding 10,000 races by the time he reaches 50 years of age. Whether or not that will happen, only time will tell. In the meanwhile, Baze lives with his wife Tami and their four children as he continues to pursue his passion with the same gusto that has made him a hero.