Horses have been on our minds even more than usual lately here in Woodside, with the Day of the Horse just recently past. We tip our riding helmet to a Woodside resident with an impressive equestrian record! Fans of horse racing have heard the name of Russell Baze, the winningest jockey alive. But did you know he’s a longtime resident of Woodside?
Born to American parents in Vancouver, his father was competing in a horse race around the time of his birth. Russell has lived in our Town for twenty years with his wife and four children.
At 53, Russell has won almost 11,400 races in his more than 35 years in racing horses. According to the Fresno Bee, his first win was on a horse trained by his own father, Joe, and he continues to win to this day. He’s been known to ride six or seven races in a day.
Baze achieved 10,000 wins in February 2008 and 11,000 in August 2010. At the time we checked his statistics for this story, he had placed first 11,379 times, second 8,552 times, and third 7,050 times, out of an absolutely incredible 48,553 starts. Over the years he’s won more than $175 million in prize money. See Wikipedia here.
Not only has he won victories on the track, he has been honored by his peers for the incredible efforts he’s shown over the years. He has been inducted into the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame, and been honored with multiple racing titles from Golden Gate Fields and the now-shuttered Bay Meadows. In addition, he’s won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, presented by jockeys to jockeys, and the Isaac Murphy Award, given by the National Turf Writers Association. He has won that award, for the jockey with the highest win percentage in a year, 13 times.
We’re glad that Russell Baze is showing no signs of slowing down, despite the broken neck, back, and pelvis he’s endured over the years, and despite competing against jockeys twenty and more years younger than he. The Fresno Bee quotes him as saying, “I love my job. Why would you want to quit with a job like this? I feel sorry for the guy who has to work behind a desk every day.” He plans on racing at least until he achieves 12,000 wins, and who knows beyond that. All we know is as long as keeps racing, we’ll keep cheering!