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Michael Baze enjoying Oaklawn success

With a last name like Baze, it would seem safe to assume that Michael Baze was always headed toward a career as a jockey. But that was not necessarily the case for the rider whose second cousin, Russell Baze, is the all-time winningest jockey in North America; whose first cousin, Tyler Baze, is a mainstay in Southern California; and whose uncle and aunt, Gary and Vicky Baze, are veteran riders.

“I might have been the only one not to grow up around horses,” said Michael Baze, 23. “My best friend and I were going to be Marines.”

But as pedigree would have it, Baze is now a seasoned pro in the saddle. A winner of 890 races and $31 million in mount earnings since launching his career in 2003, the Washington native is contending for the Oaklawn title in his first season at the track. The local colony is one of the deepest in years, and Baze heads into Thursday’s card second in the standings, sandwiched between leader Cliff Berry and two-time defending Oaklawn champ Terry Thompson.

“The first week here I rode seven and won three, so that was a pretty good start off,” Baze said. “And it’s getting better and better. I’m getting to ride for more and more people.”

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