Michael Baze: Former Nehro Jockey Found Dead, What Will Investigation Reveal?
Michael Baze Found Dead In Car Outside Churchill Downs, What Will Investigation Reveal About Death of Former Nehro Jockey
The young jockey who helped guide Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro to a win earlier this year was found dead Tuesday outside Churchill Downs.
24-year-old Michael Baze, who had ridden Nehro to a February 21 win at Oaklawn, was found dead in his Cadillac Escalade outside the historic track on Tuesday night, according to a Louisville Courier-Journal report. He was parked just outside of Gate 5 near the stables, and an autopsy and toxicology tests were scheduled for Wednesday.
Baze was a rising star in the horse racing world, who had totalled 34 wins, 41 seconds, and 38 third place finishes this year, and had helped his mounts win more than $1.2 million in total earnings over the course of the year. He is the son of retired jockey Mike Baze, and the cousin of Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze, who remains the all-time leading thoroughbred racer in history.
Per the Courier Journal's report, police do not suspect foul play in Baze's death, and they are treating the case as a death investigation, not a homicide.
Even so, Baze's death has shocked the horse racing world, as the 24-year-old seemed to have a bright future ahead of him. He'd become the youngest rider to win a race at Hollywood Park since Bill Shoemaker in 1950, and was seen as the latest in what has been one of thoroughbred racing's royal jockey families. His career earnings for mounts totalled $32 million, and he'd scored 918 wins already in his career.
Little is known at this point about the causes of Baze's death, as police are still investigating what happened in his car on tuesday, but this is quite a loss for the horse racing world.
Friends and fellow jockeys expressed their shock and sadness to ESPN.com earlier Tuesday:
"Somebody coming out of that family, it always gets your attention when you see the Baze name," Churchill Downs spokesman Asher said.
Asher called Baze's death "a tremendous and unthinkable loss."
"He had so much potential down the road," Asher said. "It doesn't make sense to any of us right now."
Hopefully, the autopsy and toxicology reports will reveal what happened in what is one of the most shocking deaths in recent horse racing history.
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