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Ex-Jockey to Kentucky Derby 2nd Place Winner Found Dead

Del Mar Opening Day
Donald Miralle, Getty Images

The jockey that rode this year’s second-place finisher, Nehro, to his only win was found dead on Tuesday.  24-year old Michael Baze of California, was found in his parked car at Churchill Downs in a stabling area of the track.  The Jefferson County Deputy Coroner pronounced him deat at 4:47pm.  Baze rode Nehro at Oaklawn in the Louisana Derby (the horse’s only win).  Nehro finished second this past Saturday without Baze aboard.

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Russell Baze Set To Break All-Time Thoroughbred Win Record
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

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A death investigation has been launched, however; there were no signs of foul play.  Preliminary tests also found no sign of a natural cause of death.  Baze rode Nehro in the 137th Kentucky Derby this past Saturday.  According to Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher, he was the cousin of Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze (the winningest jockey of all-time) and son of Mike Baze, a now retired jockey.  Coming from an obvious history of thoroughbred racing and riding, Baze began riding when he was 16-years old.  Last year, he was the leading rider at Arlington Park.

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Michael Baze
Courtesy of Flickr.com

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An autopsy is planned to be done on Baze’s body.  He was due for a court appearance today on a cocaine charge, according to the “New York Daily News.“  Most people, including myself, would look at the lifestyle and adrenaline rush of a jockey’s life as pretty exciting.  However, the pressure of riding well, keeping in good (light) weight, and of course winning, can really take a toll on the individual’s health.  Such a sad story and tragic end to a young, talented life.

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