Kevin Radke celebrated the greatest accomplishment of his riding career Sunday when he finished atop the jockey standings at the 2003-2004 Golden Gate Fields meeting.
Radke rode 88 winners during the 109-day meet, which ended Sunday. Russell Baze, who had won every Golden Gate riding title since 1991, finished fifth with 71 wins after missing eight weeks due to a fractured collarbone.
Radke's only other meet titles came at Emerald Downs in Washington the past two years.
"This is the best thing that's ever happened to me in horse racing," Radke said.
Chance Rollins finished second with 80 wins and Chad Schvaneveldt was third with 76 victories.
Baze had won the riding championship at every major Northern California meeting at which had competed since 1980, collecting 25 titles at Golden Gate Fields and 30 at Bay Meadows. In 1991, Ron Hansen took the Golden Gate title with 164 victories. Baze was riding at Hollywood Park that season.
Emerald Downs opens its 2004 meeting April 16, but Radke plans to stay in the Bay Area for the Bay Meadows spring season, a 55-day meeting that opens Wednesday.
"I'm staying here," said Radke, a 32-year-old native of Cleveland, Ohio. "I just hope to be in the top five."
There was no surprise in the race for leading trainer as Jerry Hollendorfer recorded his 24th consecutive conditioning crown at Golden Gate Fields. Hollendorfer saddled 88 winners at the meeting. Art Sherman was second with 58 victories and John F. Martin third with 52 wins.