Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze needs four more wins to be become the first rider to reach 11,000 in a career after guiding odds-on choice Goggles McCoy to victory in the $100,000 Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 11.
Baze, who turned 52 Aug. 7, has returned to Northern California and is scheduled for seven rides on the Sonoma County Fair program at Santa Rose Aug. 12.
"When you think about it, that (11,000) is a ridiculous number," Baze said after guiding Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Shapiro's homebred to a 2 1/2-length victory in the for trainer Steve Sherman. "And yet it is real for me.
"You know, it hasn't really sunk in. It probably won't until well after I'm retired. Maybe 20 years later I'll look back and put it in some perspective. I'm just a guy who is lucky enough to be doing something I love; to have enough ability to do it well, and have had enough luck where I've been able to avoid the big injuries and losing a lot of time. It's just all worked out."
Taking command shortly after the break, Goggles McCoy relaxed on the lead for Baze and had plenty left in the stretch in the seven-furlong event for California-bred 3-year-olds. The final time was 1:24.28 on Del Mar's Polytrack.
Baze was unplaced with three other mounts on the Del Mar card.
Unbeaten in four starts, Goggles McCoy paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10 as the 2-5 choice. He earned $60,000 to increase his bankroll to $120,160. The winner, a son of In Excess--Swahili Song, by Slew City Slew, has been on the lead in all of his races from the start, including two outings at Golden Gate Fields and his most recent prior race at Pleasanton.
"He didn't let me down," Baze said. "I thought he'd run good here and he did. He's just a naturally fast horse. He doesn't need the lead, but he's so quick he gets it. He'd almost have to break slow to not be in front of horses. And yet he's relaxed when he does it. I think he could go on with it -- go for some distance."
South American champion Jorge Ricardo, who currently is riding at San Isidro in Argentina, had 10,867 victories through Aug. 11 and leads Baze in wins this year, 278-222, according to the website www.paginadeturf.wordpress.com/english.