SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) – Russell Baze tied Laffit Pincay Jr.’s record of 9,530 victories Thursday at Bay Meadows, winning by 41/2 lengths aboard Christie’s Fame in the sixth race.

Far from the glamour, rich races and classy horses that define thoroughbred racing in Southern California and New York, Baze got the job done in his typical workmanlike fashion.

He sent Christie’s Fame to the lead out of the gate and settled along the rail. They maintained a length lead on the backstretch. Chased by Afeelyated, Baze peeked under his left arm to check his competition before going to the whip briefly in the stretch.

He will try to break the record today, with scheduled mounts in seven races at the 72-year-old track where Seabiscuit ran.

The 48-year-old jockey showed off his toothy grin as he calmly made his way into the winner’s circle. There was little time for celebrating, though, since he had two more races to ride.

Baze was aboard Christie’s Fame for the first time, having picked up the mount about an hour earlier after jockey Ricky Frazier took off because of illness.

“I bet he was really ill after that horse won,” Baze joked.

Christie’s Fame won for the third time in 14 career starts and paid $4.80, $2.60 and $2.20 at 7-5 odds. The 3-year-old filly is trained and co-owned by Dennis Ward.

“I’m very excited,” said Jeanne Shand, who saddled the horse in Ward’s absence. “You never know how luck comes around. It’s wonderful.”

Baze steered Christie’s Fame into the winner’s circle, greeted by a standing ovation from the sparse crowd and shouts of “Way to go, Russell!” and “We love you.”

Co-owner Larry Zimmerman was all smiles, noting that Christie’s Fame was beaten in her previous start by a horse that Baze rode.

“I said, ‘Russell, what’s going on? You don’t ride my cheap horses,”‘ said the 81-year-old owner, who earned $6,600 for the win. “This is something else. I just won the race. Now I got some money.”

Fittingly, Baze tied the record in a $6,250 claiming race – typical of the cheap races he has ridden at minor-league tracks during most of a career that began with his first winner in Yakima, Wash., in 1974. That horse was trained by his father, Joe, who won riding titles at Bay Meadows.

In 1995, his 5,000th winner came the same way his record-tying one did, aboard a last-minute mount at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa. Despite his stature as the top rider in the Bay Area, the dedicated Baze remains a regular on the Northern California fair circuit.

Pincay, 59, was on hand to see the record tied that he has owned since Dec. 10, 1999, when he overtook Bill Shoemaker’s mark of 8,833. Shoemaker had held the record for 29 years after taking it from Johnny Longden.

Announcer Michael Wrona called the race, just as he did when Pincay tied Shoemaker at Hollywood Park.

Baze’s day began later than expected after his mount in the second race was scratched. He had two seconds and a third before winning with Christie’s Fame. He was fourth and sixth in his final two mounts.

AP-ES-11-30-06 1951EST


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