Death of a Jockey

By Kenneth Garger and Walter Armstrong 05/12/11

After an arrest for cocaine, young Michael Baze was found dead in his Caddy.

Baze had nearly 1,000 wins in his short life.

It's a sad week in the horse racing world.

Drug abuse by professional athletes is so common that it hardly even raises an eyebrow any longer. But the death of jockey Michael Baze is a bitter reminder that even jocks in the most seemingly innocuous sports are not immune to addiction and its tragedies. The jockey was found dead in his Cadillac Escalade, with its motor running, on Tuesday at the Churchill Downs stable area, according to the New York Post. Although only 24 years old, he had already racked up nearly 1,000 racing victories. The story turned surprisingly sketchy, however, when it was learned that Baze was due in court for a prior arrest on cocaine possession charges, which took place in Kentucky last November.

Baze, whose father and uncle were also both famed thoroughbred horse racing stars, had a history of alcohol troubles, too. In March, he was fined $500 for failing a breathalyzer test at Oakland Park Race Track. "I knew he was struggling with some stuff. He seemed to get easily depressed and was so up and down," fellow jockey Rich Migliore told the Post. The cause of death is still unknown, as toxicology results are pending.

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