A legendary rider returned to the winner’s circle. Another one reached a milestone victory. And a familiar horse was the opening-night winner during the season’s first weekend of racing at Emerald Downs.
Gary Baze, who has ridden more winners in the state of Washington than any other jockey, won his first race at Emerald Downs in nearly three years when he guided Brainstorm to an upset victory in the ninth race on Saturday afternoon.
Baze, the all-time leading rider at Longacres and ninth all-time at Emerald Downs, began his latest comeback earlier this year in Arizona.
It took him just six mounts to rediscover his winning ways at Emerald Downs, as Brainstorm shook clear of Fort Madison into the stretch and posted a three-length victory in the $17,500 claiming race for older horses.It was victory No. 3,389 for Baze, who began his career in 1972.
“You never lose the feeling of winning a race,” said Baze, 52. “It’s a great feeling. That’s why I’m back.”
But Baze wasn’t the only rider in Saturday’s spotlight.
Juan Gutierrez racked up his 500th Emerald Downs victory when he guided April’s Red Tie first across the wire in the second race.
Gutierrez joins Gallyn Mitchell (966), Frank Gonsalves (561), Ricky Frazier (502) and Ben Russell (501) as jockeys with 500 wins at Emerald Downs. Gutierrez has 943 victories overall.
On Friday’s chilly opening night, with fans braving temperatures in the upper 30s, gusty winds and even snow flurries, Wasserman, rallied from fifth place to score a half-length victory in the $21,000 Muckleshoot Purse.
Regular rider Jennifer Whitaker was aboard.