Russell Baze has 50,000th ride in US
USA: The remarkable Russell Baze reached yet another significant milestone on Friday when he become the first jockey in history to ride in 50,000 races.
Russell Baze: 50,000 ridesPICTURE: Mark Cranham
Baze, 54, hit the 50,000-mark when he partnered Finish Rich In Nyc to finish third in the sixth race at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, where he rode a treble to take his career victories to an amazing 11,839.
While this figure is also a North American record, Baze stands at second place on the all-time world list behind his long-term rival, the Brazilian legend Jorge Ricardo, who has 11,886 victories to his name.
"I don't think it's any big thing just going out there that many times, but going out there and really being successful at it, that's what is important," said Baze.
Baze, who has won 84 meeting titles at Golden Gate and the now defunct Bay Meadows, rode his first winner aged 16 in October 1974 on Oregon Warrior, a horse trained by his father Joe, at Yakima Meadows racetrack in Washington State.
He became the winningmost rider of all-time on December 1, 2006, when he partnered the 9,531st winner of his career to surpass the mark established seven years earlier by Laffit Pincay, though he has subsequently ceded first place to Buenos Aires-based Ricardo.
Baze has led the nation 12 times in terms of races won. He has ridden more than 400 winners in a season 13 times, with his personal best coming in 1995 with 448 victories; he topped the US charts yet again in 2012 with 374.
Having received a special Eclipse award in 1995, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999.
"I don't think my physical skills have diminished any at all. I get the odd ache and pain here and there but it's manageable," he added on Friday.
"I'm the kind of guy that likes playing games and winning," he said. "And when I can do it against the younger guys, it kind of adds a little extra thrill to it. I figure in 2016 I'll have 40 years in, and so, that might be enough. But I'll cross that bridge when I get there."