Legends Of Horse Racing: Russell Baze

Mon, Feb 13, 2023
by CapperTek

Rider Russell Baze participated in more than 53,500 races throughout the course of a career that lasted an incredible 42 years. The amount of kilometers, he racked up over time, would allow you to travel around the world twice.

Even more astoundingly, Russell Baze took home the victory in 12,842 of those contests, setting a record that is unlikely to be beaten by a jockey from North America anytime soon, if ever. In comparison, Baze's closest pursuer has only won a little over 7,000 races.

If you enjoy horse racing, then you should check out TVG carryover horse racing, for all the up-to-date information of the latest bets. While in this article, we will be taking a closer look at Russel Baze, a legend in the world of horse racing. 

Russell Baze Family

Russell Baze has horse riding in his DNA, due to the fact that his father was also a renowned jockey and trainer himself. It is known that when Russell was born, his father, Joe Russell, was competing at Exhibition Park in Vancouver. 

Thus, it is no surprise that Joe encouraged his son into horse riding and got him on a horse from an early age. 

Riding Career

At the age of 16, Baze launched his racing career in Walla Walla, Washington. He won his inaugural race at the Yakima racetrack that fall. His first victory was achieved while riding on Oregon Warrior under the instruction of his father. 

Russell was winning over a hundred races a year by the time he was 21 years old. A feat he would repeat annually from 1979 to 2016.

Baze, who spent much of his time in Northern California, was the greatest jockey in history in Bay Meadows Race Course and Golden Gate Fields meets. He achieved his milestone 3,000th victory in 1988, his 4,000th in 1993, and his 5,000th in 1995. 

On February 1, 2008, he achieved the historic 10,000-win milestone. Then, two and a half years later, in 2010, he attained the 11,000-win milestone. 

Baze dominated the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields, winning the track's premier event in 1984, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2014. He led Handful of Pearls to success at Pleasanton on July 7 to surpass 12,000 wins in 2013.

Russell Baze kept riding successfully even as he got closer to 60 years old. Baze took second in the day's 10th event on June 12, 2016, the final day of the competition. Then, he unexpectedly announced his retirement. 

He was only 58 years old, with a total of 12,842 wins and earnings of around $199,334,218.

Career Accomplishments 

Russell would take part in practically any horse race, unlike other riders. No matter how valuable the opposition was, to him, every race was like the Triple Crown. This is what caused him to win and be presented with a wide range of awards during his career. Below are some of the most popular and well known accomplishments he has achieved: 

In 1995, Baze was given a Special Eclipse Award, one of the top accolades in the sport. In recognition of his accomplishment of winning a minimum of 400 races annually for four years in a row.

Then in 1999, Russell Baze was introduced to the Riding Hall of Fame. This was due to his high success in racing, as he was on course to win his 7,000th race. If that wasn’t enough, due to having a dual nationality, Baze was introduced into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2012. 

Not only did Baze constantly rewrite the record books with the amount of wins underneath his belt. In fact, it is known that Baze ended his career with 12,842 wins, he came in second 9,600 times and third 7,855 times. 

Additionally, he also won the Isaac Murphy Award 13 out of the 14 times he was nominated. The only time he didn't win was in 2004 when he came second. 

What Made Russel Baze Such A Good Jockey?

Jerry Hollendorfer, an old trainer of Russell Baze, who helped him to win 2,893 races, said that his lack of any serious injuries and good health were major contributors to Baze’s success. In addition to this, Baze had an incredible work ethic, which is what helped him to become the legend that he is today. 

Just with any jockey, Baze has had his fair share of setbacks, but his determination to be the best is what carried him through the hard times. 


Russell Baze is a true legend when it comes to the world of horse riding. You only have to look at the amount of wins he has to see, he is a true champion in the sport. Baze started his career when he was just 16 years old, and he retired just before his 59th birthday. 

With so many accomplishments and achievements, if you are a fan of horse racing, you will have certainly come across this jockey before!