Jockey Michael Baze, a member of a famed riding family in United States racing, was found dead the afternoon of May 10 on the backstretch at Churchill Downs. The death of the 24-year-old Baze was confirmed by the Louisville Metro Coronor’s office.
A Louisville Metro Police spokesperson confirmed that a body was found in a Cadillac Escalade near Gate 5 at 4:30 p.m. The Louisville police noted they do not suspect foul play. An autopsy is to be performed May 11.
Baze was born April 14, 1987 in Renton, Wash., the son of retired rider Mike Baze. Michael was first cousin of Tyler Baze. His uncle is Gary Baze, while Hall of Fame member Russell Baze is the first cousin of his father, Mike.
In an all-too-brief career that began in 2003, Baze won 918 races from 6,968 mounts, and his mounts earned more than $32.4 million. In 2007, at the age of 20, he became the youngest jockey to win a riding title at Hollywood Park’s spring/summer meet since Bill Shoemaker in 1950. He rode 73 winners at the 63-day stand.
In 2011 Baze had 34 wins from 238 mounts (14%) with a pair of stakes wins at Oaklawn Park including the Razorback Handicap (gr. III) aboard It Happened Again. He finished fourth in the standings at Oaklawn with 34 wins.
He was named to ride in his first race of Churchill Downs' spring/summer meet May 12. His last mount came on April 29 when he finished fifth aboard Jazil's Song in the fourth race at Keeneland. His last win came April 13 at Oaklawn aboard Depaul in the first race.
Among his top winners were Mi Sueno (Darley Debutante, gr. I, 2009), Georgie Boy (San Felipe Stakes, gr. II, 2008), and grade II victors Sun Boat, Worldly, Salute the Sarge, and Out of Control.