Russell Baze

Russell Baze

Baze Tops Portland Meadows 'Challenge'

Russell Baze will headline the first Jockey Challenge at Portland Meadows.

from Portland Meadows

Thoroughbred racing’s all-time winning jockey Russell Baze and three of his colleagues will fly up from Northern California to take on four of the top riders at Portland Meadows Jan. 7 in the first Golden Gate versus Portland Meadows Jockey Challenge sponsored by XpressBet.

The competition at the Portland, Ore., racetrack will consist of four XpressBet Jockey Challenge races and $20,000 in prize money. Golden Gate is dark that day.

Headlining the event will be the return of Northwest United States native Russell Baze, who has more than 10,200 wins in his career and is once again leading the Golden Gate rider standings. Baze’s son-in-law, Kyle Kaenel, currently fourth in the Golden Gate rider standings, will be part of Team Golden Gate along with  Francisco Duran and Leslie Mawing, who each had 28 wins at the Golden Gate meet through Dec. 29.

Team Portland Meadows will feature the top four riders in the current standings. Debbie Hoonan-Trujillo has been atop the Portland Meadows win list for most of the season, and currently has 45 wins at the meet. Mark Anderson is currently second in the standings in his first season at Portland Meadows.

The third member of Team Portland Meadows will be perennial leading rider Joe Crispin, who has come on strong after missing the first three weeks of the season because of an injury and is currently third in the standings. Javier Matias completes the line-up for Team Portland Meadows with his 29 wins, which put him fourth in the standings.

The competition will feature four XpressBet Jockey Challenge races, each of which will have eight horses in the field. Each of the eight riders will be assigned a mount via random draw. The riders will receive a score based on where their mount finishes.

Points will be given according to the finish of each race; first is worth one point, second two points, and eighth eight points, for example. The team with the lowest score at the end of the competition will be the winning team.

The winning team will split up to $10,000, while the losing team will get $5,000. As a bonus, the rider with the most wins will receive $2,500; the second-place rider $1,500, and the third-place rider $1,000. Should there be a tie for most victories, the tiebreaker will be second-place finishes, followed by third-place finishes if needed.

Live coverage of the XpressBet Jockey Challenge will be shown on HRTV with host Jon White and three-time Kentucky Derby winner and Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens. Stevens started his career in the Northwest, and in 1983 set the single-season record for wins at Portland Meadows with 126 victories. That record stood for more than 20 years until Crispin broke it during the 2006-07 meet with 161 wins.

The Jan. 7 program is the first Wednesday of racing at Portland Meadows, which will switch to a Monday-through-Wednesday schedule. First post time in 2009 is set for 12:45 p.m. PST.

The XpressBet Jockey Challenge will be featured in races four through seven, with a start time of about 2:15 p.m. The program will include a $10,000-guaranteed Pick 5 on faces four through eight—the entire XpressBet Jockey Challenge as well as the day’s feature race, the $18,000 Willamette River Stakes.

Baze will sign autographs before the start of live racing on the mainline of the Portland Meadows grandstand.