SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) – Russell Baze became racing’s winningest jockey Friday when he broke Laffit Pincay Jr.’s record with a victory aboard Butterfly Belle at Bay Meadows.

Win No. 9,531 came in the fourth race, when the 48-year-old Baze found a hole along the rail and drove through it. He whipped the filly down the stretch to win on the Longden turf course, named for Johnny Longden, who once held the record Baze broke.

The inquiry sign was posted after the race, but it didn’t involve Baze’s filly.

The infield display board flashed “Congratulations Russell Baze” as he steered Butterfly Belle into the winner’s circle. Baze doffed his riding helmet to the cheering crowd.

Pincay had owned the mark since Dec. 10, 1999, when he took it from Bill Shoemaker. Pincay, 59, was on hand for his fifth day of watching Baze, who had won one race each of the previous two days. Baze tied the record of 9,530 Thursday.

Shoemaker had held the mark for 29 years after surpassing Longden.

Baze’s mounts were heavily bet down from their morning-line odds by fans seeking souvenir $2 win tickets.

“Who would’ve thought 32 years ago a skinny little kid with no experience would be standing here today,” Baze told the sparse crowd as he stood in the winner’s circle. “I could hardly believe this would happen.”

The record is the crowning achievement of a career that began with Baze’s first winner in 1974 at Yakima Meadows, Wash., riding a horse trained by his father. Baze has spent the majority of his career in the Bay Area, having tried the ultra-competitive Southern California circuit for three years in the late 1980s with little success. He has ridden in just two Kentucky Derbies 10 years apart, and is 0-for-3 in the Breeders’ Cup. Baze is not the legendary rider that Shoemaker, Pincay and Longden were, but he’s respected for his dedication and competitive desire.

“Russell is a great rider and he works very hard,” Pincay told the fans. “It takes a lot of ability and dedication to win that many races.”

Baze is the dominant rider in the Bay Area, leaving other jockeys scrambling to get mounts that routinely fall to him simply because of reputation. He has won 36 riding titles at Bay Meadows, the track where Seabiscuit ran.

“Just keep doing what you’re doing, but not too much longer because we need to make a living, too,” said Joey Castro, speaking on behalf of the Bay Meadows jockey colony.

The track presented Baze and his wife, Tami, with a European vacation.

Baze’s only son, Gable, missed three days’ of school waiting for his father to make history.

AP-ES-12-01-06 1752EST


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