Russell Baze, who is on pace to surpass Laffit Pincay Jr. as horse racing's all-time leading jockey, was installed as the 4-1 morning line favorite for Friday night's seventh annual NTRA All-Star Jockey Championship at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.
For the unique contest, patrons can wager on individual jockeys to win the competition. The winner is determined by whose mounts accumulate the most points, based on a scale of 12 points for a first-place horse, six for a second-place horse, four for a third-place horse and three for a fourth-place horse. A late scratch or non-starter is worth one point.
Post positions and riding assignments for the four-race Jockey Championship were drawn randomly Wednesday morning in the Lone Star Park racing office. The horses are divided into four classes of contenders, designated A, B, C or D, according to track handicappers' rankings. Each rider gets one mount from each group during the competition.
Baze will ride 2-1 favorite Privano's First as his "A" horse in the first leg of the Championship, which is Race 4. In the last leg, "The Muscle" rides 12-1 "C" horse Winning Brief, a new acquisition by leading trainer Cole Norman that Baze rode in the gelding's last two starts at Bay Meadows.
The 9-2 second choice on the morning line is 22-year-old Ryan Fogelsonger, making his first All-Star appearance. The former pizza delivery boy rides 5-2 second choice Mystic Knight as his "A" horse in the first leg. He also rides live "B" and "C" horses for always-dangerous Steve Asmussen, the all-time leading trainer at Lone Star Park.
The morning line for the jockey wager was set by Lone Star racing information specialist Rick Lee, who saw Baze and Fogelsonger as the most probable contest winners.
"They were the only two with three horses that are really live," Lee said. "Others have two, but these guys have three that are major players, so that's why they got the edge."
The winning jockey has never been the betting favorite. In fact, every past winner has paid in double digits: Shane Sellers (1998, $14.80); Laffit Pincay Jr. (1999, $20.40); Edgar Prado (2000, $19.80); Jerry Bailey (2001, $12.80) and Chris McCarron (2002, $10.80). There was no jockey wager when Gary Stevens won the inaugural Championship in 1997.
This year's field is comprised of 12 leading jockeys from around the nation. Here's the complete field in alphabetical order (with morning line odds):
1. Robby Albarado (15-1)
2. Russell Baze (4-1)
3. Jorge Chavez (15-1)
4. Ryan Fogelsonger (9-2)
5. Eddie Martin Jr. (8-1)
6. Richard Migliore (8-1)
7. Edgar Prado (5-1)
8. Jose Santos (15-1)
9. Shane Sellers (12-1)
10. Mike Smith (10-1)
11. Alex Solis (15-1)
12. Pat Valenzuela (8-1)