Russell Baze, who has won more races than any jockey in the history of Thoroughbred racing, will be inducted into the Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame (MESHOF) in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Feb. 25, in a ceremony that will be held at the Interstate Center-Mormon Temple.
Formerly the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame, MESHOF is dedicated to honoring sports legends of all races. MESHOF is a non-profit organization devoted to developing opportunities for less fortunate youth to gain exposure to positive aspects of life, and to broaden the public’s understanding of African American/Ethnic history and the role of diversity and cultural tolerance in the growth of professional sports.
Baze, who has 11,159 career victories, is part of 2011 induction class that also features NBA great Rick Barry and NFL star quarterback Y. A. Tittle.
This will be the fourth Hall of Fame induction for Baze, who is a member of the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame (inducted in 1999), Washington Horse Racing Hall of Fame (2004), and the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association’s Hall of Fame (2007).
“I am extremely honored that the Multi Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame has selected me for induction, and very proud to be a member of such a fine class,” said Baze.
In addition to Baze, Barry and Tittle, MESHOF’s 2011 induction class includes Ben Tucker (track and field), Proverb Jacobs (football), James Robinson (Olympian), Ron Davis (track and field) and Marilyn King (Olympian). The group will join a Hall of Fame that features many impressive members, including Lenny Wilkens (basketball), Wilt Chamberlain (basketball), John Brodie (football), and Dusty Baker (baseball).
Baze is based at Golden Gate Fields and has won nearly 4,400 races at the Albany racetrack, which is located less than 12 miles from where the MESHOF induction ceremony will be held.
Baze became the first jockey in North America to win 10,000 races when he recorded the landmark victory aboard Two Step Cat in the third race at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 1, 2008. Baze posted his 11,000th victory on Aug. 14, 2010, at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa when he guided Separate Forest to victory in the fourth race.
Baze overtook the great Laffit Pincay, Jr. as the winningest jockey in thoroughbred racing history when he recorded career victory No. 9,531 aboard Butterfly Belle in the fourth race at Bay Meadows on Dec. 1, 2006. Pincay was forced into retirement by injuries in 2003 with 9,530 wins.
Baze has led the nation in victories 11 times – in 2009 (with 415 wins), 2008 (403), 2007 (399), 2005 (375), 2002 (431), 2000 (412), 1996 (415), 1995 (448), 1994 (415), 1993 (408), and 1992 (435) – and has won 400 races in a year 13 times. No other jockey has won 400 races in a year more than three times.
Baze is a 15-time winner of the Isaac Murphy Award, a national honor that is given annually to the jockey who rides the highest percentage of winners from mounts (minimum 500 mounts) during the year. Named for the 19th century African American jockey who won with 44 percent of his career mounts, the Isaac Murphy Award was inaugurated in 1995 by the National Turf Writers Association and Baze has taken the honor every year with the exception of 2004. Baze earned the award in 2010 with an outstanding winning percentage of 29.8.
Baze has won many major stakes, including the following Grade 1 events: Ancient Title Handicap (with Smiling Tiger in 2010), King’s Bishop (Lost in the Fog-2005), Santa Monica Handicap (Devils Orchid-1991), and Oak Tree Invitational (twice, Hawkster-1989, Both Ends Burning-1984). Baze has won the El Camino Real Derby seven times (Connemara-2010, Chocolate Candy-2009, Bwana Bull-2007, Cause to Believe-2006, Uncle Denny-2005, Event of the Year-1998, and French Legionaire-1984) and the California Derby five times (Chocolate Candy-2009, Bwana Bull-2007, Cause to Believe-2006, Trieste’s Honor-2004, Always A Cinch-1981).
Baze has won 39 riding championships at Golden Gate Fields and also captured 40 riding titles at Bay Meadows, which closed in 2008.
The MESHOF induction ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. and serving as master of ceremonies will be former major league baseball players Bip Roberts and Shooty Babitt. For ticket information, visit www.afrosportshall.com or call Arif Khatib at (510) 472-0391.