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“Bazewatch” picks up momentum as BC Derby weekend approaches


September 23, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

With his agent Ray Harris juggling radio, television and newspaper requests from the Vancouver media, Russell Baze is quite aware that he hasn’t been forgotten in his home and native land.

Born in Vancouver in 1958 while his father Joe was working at Exhibition Park, Russell went on to become the most successful jockey in North America with more than 11,000 career victories and more than 75 major U.S. riding titles.

Still active primarily at Golden Gate Fields and the NoCal circuit, Baze has agreed to ride Cherokee Notion in Sunday’s $150,000 BC Derby at Hastings Racecourse.

The biggest weekend of the Thoroughbred racing season is in store for Hastings with eight stakes races and more than $500,000 in purse money on the line during BC Oaks Day on Saturday and BC Derby Day on Sunday. Both cards have 1:40 p.m. start times.

Baze has agreed to ride in three stakes races on Sunday, including the Derby, and will also be available for an autograph session on the tarmac outside the winner’s circle.

“I’m looking forward to returning to Vancouver,” Baze told Tommy Wolski of The Sport of Kings television show. “The people of British Columbia always make me feel welcome.”

Inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame in 1999, Baze overtook the great Laffit Pincay, Jr. as the winningest jockey in North America when he recorded victory number 9,531 aboard Butterfly Belle at Bay Meadows on December 1, 2006. Pincay was forced into retirement by various injuries in 2003 with 9,530 wins.

Post positions for the BC Derby will be drawn at the annual Gala Dinner tonight (September 23) in the George Royal Room at Hastings Racecourse.

The $75,000 BC Oaks stakes highlights Saturday’s fillies and mares card that also features the Delta Colleen, the Fantasy and the Derby Bar and Grill Ladies Express. The boys take over the limelight on Sunday with the BC Derby that has drawn a full field of 12 horses, the Sir Winston Churchill, the Ascot Graduation and Derby Bar and Grill Express.

The final Friday Night Live card goes tomorrow night (September 24) with the regular 7:00 p.m. start. After the Oaks/Derby weekend, there are only five racing dates remaining on the 2010 Hastings schedule.