Russell Baze, America’s all-time winningest jockey, returns to ride Saturday at Golden Gate Fields after recuperating from a broken right collarbone. The 57-year-old Hall of Fame rider will be aboard favorite Central Heat in the $50,000 Golden Poppy Stakes.
Baze missed five weeks of competition after an April 16 fall when his mount, Hewearsthefozhat, suffered a fatal breakdown at the Albany racetrack.
Despite the layoff, Baze still leads the jockey standings at the current meeting with a 10-win advantage over Juan Hernandez.
Baze currently has 12,812 career victories and 53 Golden Gate riding titles. He’s scheduled to ride four races Saturday.
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Central Heat, the defending Golden Poppy champion, has won six consecutive races including five with Baze aboard before his injury. Central Heat won her 2016 seasonal debut April 24 by four lengths under substitute rider Ricardo Gonzalez.
“We get along pretty good,” Baze said of the mare. “I won five in a row on her and she’s a real hard-trying runner. I watched her last race, and she looked like she was on top of her game, just like the last time I rode her.”