I was up in the Del Mar press box Wednesday when Corey Nakatani was injured and it was a possibility that the Lava Man camp might need to find a new rider for Sunday’s Pacific Classic. The name Tyler Baze came up, since Baze has ridden often for trainer Doug O’Neill. One press box observer was aghast that Baze’s name even came up.
“He (O’Neill) would have to be crazy to put Baze on that horse,” the critic said. “He would open himself up to so much second-guessing.” Well, my reaction was why? I mean, since coming back from personal problems, Tyler Baze has been riding well. He’s eighth in the Del Mar rider standings with 11 victories after scoring aboard Here Comes Ray Ray in Thursday’s second race. If I was O’Neill, I would not have hesitated to tab Baze if he’d needed a rider for Lava Man. Another plus — because Baze has been beaten down recently, he’d be even hungrier to prove his worth, as if that motivation would be needed when riding in a million-dollar race.