The top two jockeys by wins in the history of Thoroughbred racing, Russell Baze and Jorge Ricardo, are scheduled to square off in a five-race showdown being billed as the Champions Challenge Sept. 18 at Jockey Club do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Between them, Baze and Ricardo have amassed more than 24,000 victories. Baze holds a slight edge over Ricardo, who was sidelined for a period with injuries. According to a track release, the only time they previously met in competition was the 2008 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot in England.
"We're extremely excited about the opportunity to bring this unprecedented showdown to Rio Grande do Sul," Jockey Club president Jose Vecchio Filho said in a release. "We feel it puts our track on the world stage and we're looking forward to hosting the event."
Under the Champions Challenge system, the riders will be assigned to the morning-line favorite and second-choice in five different races. The objective is to make sure the races are as competitive and fair as possible.
Ricardo was injured in a riding accident last year and suffered a shoulder fracture, broken jaw, and facial lacerations. At the time, he was leading Baze in total of wins, but Baze moved ahead while Ricardo was recovering from his injuries.
"I never really thought about the competition with Russell," Ricardo said, "but while recovering from the accident I started to think about retrieving my lead again. But either way, I love the competition. Horse racing is my life."
Baze, 56, has already been inducted into the Racing Hall of and his mounts have earned more than $191 million.
"People are always asking me when I will quit, but I don't have a date in mind. I'm healthy, I'm in great shape and I love my job," Baze said. "I'm very competitive. Whatever I put my hand to, I try to win."